4 Issues that Competency Based Education Must Overcome
Over the last decade, competency-based education has become a growing trend (a slowly growing one) in higher education, because of its innovative approach to student mastery. Competency-based education is a self-paced, mastery-oriented program that usually includes the use of tech. Students must master and demonstrate competency in various tasks and skills, to pass courses and ultimately complete their degree. It offers an alternative to traditional courses, whether held in-person or online, which students take for a set amount of time with the goal of earning a passing grade and credit hours that apply toward graduation.
For all its potential, competency-based education will not become a viable educational model until it overcomes its flaws and issues.
Lack of Accreditation and Access to Financial aid. Although no one will deny its innovativeness, students that attend schools offering competency-based education are not eligible for financial assistance, mainly because The U.S. Department of Education doesn’t have a system in place for evaluating CBE credentialing structures. In essence, universities that feature competency-based education have a hard time becoming accreditated and maintaining accreditation, which means no financial aid for their students.
Parity. Specific components of competency-based education are subjective in nature, which leaves room for bias and discrimination. How can it overcome our educational systems history of bias, and realize educational equity? Also, CBE increases the achievement gap by seemingly setting students up to fail. For instance, a minority student who has a lackluster educational background will not fare well in a self-paced mastery-based system where they are left to their own devices and expected to produce quality work. They need institutional resources and supports to succeed.
Excellence. Competency-based education needs to demonstrate an uncompromising commitment to excellence. How will the movement ensure that the rigor and quality of CBE programs are equitable across the board? How will it realize this goal? If it doesn’t, I predict that it will continue a path of mediocrity and eventually endure the fate of other educational fads and trends.
Wariness. The American education system is always skeptical of change. Because of this, new innovations like CBE get treated like a passing fad that will wear off in a couple of years. Also, people are wary of change, especially since the current model is working just fine. Students are transitioning to the workforce seamlessly, and the business sector hasn’t lodged any significant complaints about worker quality.
In closing, competency-based education must fix its glaring issues and problems before it is considered a viable alternative to traditional higher education models.