Across the country, educators are considering multiple strategies to help students learn and reach graduation. One strategy is competency-based education, which allows students to advance as they demonstrate a mastery of skills or content regardless of pace. These resources present recommendations to support competency-based education for overage and under-credited students, enrollment strategies for underrepresented and underprepared adults, and lessons from information technology programs.

State Policies to Support Competency-Based Education for Overage, Under-Credited Students. 2016. This report presents competency-based education as a strategy to address the needs of nontraditional, overage, and under-credited students (OA/UC). It examines competency-based education policies in four states—Georgia, Illinois, Nevada, and Ohio—and provides policy recommendations. The authors recommend these strategies: “complet[e]…[state] policy and programmatic scans… to learn what current policies exist for meeting the needs of OA/UC students”; “support flexible school designs…[such as] blended and online learning opportunities[,]…concurrent and dual enrollment[,]…and…nontraditional schedules”; “change accountability parameters for schools regarding graduation rates, by extending them beyond the traditional 4 years of high school”; and “consider incorporating social and emotional, college and career planning and exploration…and other wraparound supports.”

Paving the Way: Remaking Entry for Postsecondary Success. 2017. This resource identifies strategies for the intake, placement, and orientation components of competency-based education that can be adapted to better serve underrepresented and underprepared adult students in college, drawing on recommendations from national experts, policymakers, and practitioners. The report provides several recommendations: “[o]rganize programs of study into meta-majors that promote entry into a specified program”; “[i]mplement multiple measures of assessment to determine appropriate academic placement”;”[c]ompile student entry portfolios…and standardized academic college placement exams”; and “[b]uild a learning community to facilitate peer learning, support, and sense of belonging.”

Implementation of Competency- Based Education in Community Colleges: Findings from the Evaluation of a TAACCCT Grant. 2015. This report provides an implementation analysis of curriculum development, student support, and employer engagement under the Adapting and Adopting Competency-Based IT Instruction to Accelerate Learning for TAA-Eligible, Veterans, and Other Adult Learners program in four information technology programs: programming, technical support, networking and software development. It also provides key challenges and lessons learned in curriculum delivery, learner supports, industry and workforce relationships, contextual influences on program implementation, and finally, sustainability, replication and program scalability.