Competency-based higher education has encountered fierce resistance from an education system that often seems more interested in tradition than getting results. Many college degrees grant more prestige than job marketability.
Ohio Gov. John Kasich is being criticized for proposing to supplement Ohio’s higher education offerings with programs provided by Utah-based Western Governors University (WGU)–not because its online but because it’s competency-based.
Kasich told the Columbus Dispatch, “the beauty of competency-based education is that you can show what you know over time. You can, at your own speed, show your qualifications and be able to earn a credential that puts you in a position of being able to get a really good job.” Students who college graduate often find there is little correlation between the often-esoteric degree they earn and employers who are willing to hire them.
Competency-based education has the advantage of increased practicality. WGU is designed specifically with input from employers, who collaborated with the online school to fashion a curriculum that produces the kinds of skills employers immediately need.
The Salt Lake Community College (SLCC), School of Applied Technology (SAT), is doing the same. The SAT goal is to have many if not all of its 26 applied technology certificates competency-based. This is especially great for Horizonte, Salt Lake City School District’s alternative high school and adult education center. Especially the adult graduates, most bi or multi-lingual, bring skills from previous work experience that can enable them to accelerate completion of their applied tech certificate programs.
Not only can they complete sooner but many of their credits are transferrable to an SLCC associate degree which, in turn, is transferrable to a Utah university bachelor program. The privately-funded Horizonte College Scholarship covers 75 percent of their tuition, fees and books through a technology certificate to an associate degree.