Competency-based education is in vogue — even though most people have never heard of it, and those who have can't always agree on what it is.
A report out today from the American Enterprise Institute says a growing number of colleges and universities are offering, or soon will offer, credits in exchange for direct demonstrations of learning. That's a big shift from credit hours — the currency of higher education for more than a century — which require students to spend an allotted amount of time with instructors.
A "competency" might be a score on a standardized exam or a portfolio of work. These are types of credit familiar to most people: think AP exams. But they are being applied to core requirements, not just used for skipping electives or introductory courses.
And in a newer, even more experimental trend, institutions such as Western Governor's University are offering entire degree programs that allow students to move at their own pace, completing assignments and assessments as they master the material.