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A Natural Fit? Community Colleges and Competency-Based Education


November 18, 2013

​This event explored how community colleges are designing Competency-Based Education (CBE) programs that meet the particular needs of their key stakeholders and what lessons those efforts hold for other postsecondary institutions.

Speakers examined how the current policy environment helps and hinders the scaling of CBE models and similar innovative approaches to postsecondary education.

The past year has seen an explosion of interest in CBE on the part of students, institutions, employers, and policymakers. With the cost of higher education sky rocketing, recent graduates struggling to find good jobs, and real questions about how much students are actually learning, colleges and universities are under more pressure than ever to equip students for career and life success. CBE has the potential to address a variety of the challenges facing higher education - from cost, to relevancy, to transparency of learning outcomes - by shifting the measure of student learning from seat time to mastery. To make that transition, however, requires significant changes in current policy and practice at the institutional, state, and federal levels.

While the adoption of competency-based approaches by universities such a Western Governors and Southern New Hampshire has been widely covered by the press and policy community, CBE at community colleges has received less attention, despite its close fit with the more career-focused programs at 2-year institutions. In fact, for many community colleges, competencies have been at the core of their instructional design models as they strive to meet the needs of regional employers and adult learners seeking industry-recognized skills and credentials.



9 a.m.   Welcome and Opening Remarks
Amy Laitinen
Deputy Director for Higher Education, New America Foundation

Eric Seleznow
Acting Assistant Secretary, Employment and Training Administration, U.S. Department of Labor

9:15    Overview of Competency-Based Education

Sally Johnstone
Vice President of Academic Advancement, Western Governors University 

9:45    Building Competency-Based Models: The Essential Role of College Leaders

Jerrilee Mosier
Chancellor, Ivy Tech Community College, Northeast 
Jean Hernandez
President, Edmonds Community College 
Linda Howdyshell
Provost, Broward College

Dan Phelan (Moderator)
President, Jackson Community College
American Association of Community College Board Member 

10:30    Coffee Break
10:40    Moving from Institutions to Systems: Implications for Policy and Practice

Jay Box
Chancellor, Kentucky Community and Technical College System

Amy Laitinen
Deputy Director for Higher Education, New America Foundation

Belle Wheelan
President, Southern Association of Colleges and Schools

Louis Soares (Moderator)
Vice President, Policy Research and Strategy, American Council on Education

11:30    Adjourn


ACE is proud to sponsor this event along with:
Logo for American Association of Community Colleges Logo for New America Foundation Logo for Western Governors University


This event was held on Monday, November 18, 2013
at New America Foundation .


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