Many people who didn’t go beyond high school – or who attempted a post-high school program but did not finish – understand the value of having a college degree, certificate, industry certification, or other credential. They know that a quality credential can lead to a better job, to further education, and to a better life. Many adults have earned college credits in more than one place and have picked up knowledge and skills on the job, in the military, or through other training. Often, their interests or circumstances have changed over time, and they want or need education or training that differs from what they had originally set out to accomplish.
Well-designed competency-based programs can help these adults develop their talent in ways that lead to worthwhile credentials. Credentials more clearly linked to well-defined and properly assessed learning will create more pathways for more people.
Competency-based programs serve students of all ages and backgrounds. To ensure broad availability, competency-based programs should be made an integral part of growing efforts to encourage more adults to pursue education. States with robust tracking systems can help identify potential students. The expansion of competency-based learning will be driven, in part, by the widespread use of new approaches to recognizing learning after high school – however, whenever, and wherever it takes place.