By Dr. Marciene Mattleman

PHILADELPHIA (CBS) – Some college students show that they have mastered course content by portfolios, test scores and clinical observations and in 2001 Regents College, renamed Excelsior, began issuing associate degrees based on competency as a way for veterans, homemakers and others to get credit for prior learning.

Now there are 20 public and private institutions developing or delivering such programs. Policy makers see them as key to improving college graduation rates. Employers laud Excelsior’s 15,000 student associate-level nursing program believing it’s as good as a traditional one.

In 2011, federal education secretary Arne Duncan praised Western Governors University programs for “real leadership in the moving from seat time to competency,” believing others would follow.

The Lumina Foundation is convening a meeting shortly to try to develop language and guidelines in hopes of pleasing accreditors and moving the Feds toward financial aid for competency-based programs.

Read more in The Chronicle of Higher Education.

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