Posted on 02-Mar-16
Competency Based Education & The Call for High Stakes Assessment image

According to a study by Georgetown University as reported by Fortune magazine, by 2025 two-thirds of all jobs in the U.S. will require education beyond high school. At the rate the U.S. is currently producing college grads, the nation is looking at a shortfall of 11 million skilled workers to fill those rolls over the next 10 years. We are facing a shortage of workers with college degrees. However, students and their families are concerned about the increasing investment of time and money required to complete a college degree. There is a call from multiple stakeholders to reduce the cost and time to degree completion.

SmarterServices CBE Word CloudOne of the ways that many higher education institutions are responding to this call is known as Competency Based Education (CBE). Many of the one million college graduates CBE-image1needed are adults with substantial on-the-job experience. The structure of CBE programs varies from school to school. For the most part, CBE programs are vehicles through which experienced learners can demonstrate and document the fact that through their prior experience they already possess a high degree of competency in the learning objectives stated in an academic course.

Some of the approaches that students can take to document their experience include portfolios, projects, and exhibition of objects created. In addition to these forms of authentic assessment, their level of mastery of many learning objectives can be demonstrated through assessment. If at the beginning of a course or program a student can take an exam to verify that they possess the desired level of mastery of the course content, then why should they invest their time and money to pay for being educated on that content when they have already mastered it?

Since demonstration of mastery via assessment is an integral part of many Competency Based Education programs, it is imperative that the assessments be robust, valid, reliable and administered in a controlled environment. The reputation of the CBE program is at stake if students are able to fraudulently receive academic credit via an assessment on which they cheated.

For this reason schools offering CBE programs must plan for the assessments to be conducted as high-stakes assessments in a monitored environment. However one of the primary reasons for offering a CBE program is to control costs to the students, and proctoring in a corporate proctoring center can be expensive at an average of $75.00 per hour.

To control costs, schools should offer students a variety of proctoring options and allow the student as an empowered consumer to make the selection of proctoring method that is best for them on the continuum of cost vs. convenience. Fortunately, a spectrum of proctoring modalities now exists including: instructor as proctor, collegiate testing centers, proctoring professionals (H.R. Directors, Military Education Officers, etc.), live-virtual proctoring and automated-virtual proctoring.

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