Missouri community colleges will have a role in pilot program for competency-based education

Missouri community colleges will be part of a pilot program designed to bring competency-based education to campuses across the country.

In competency-based education, a college may grant credit hours and perhaps even a degree if a person can use knowledge gained on a job to pass a college assessment without requiring them to spend time in class.

“Competency-based approaches take the important step of placing the focus on what a student knows and can do while minimizing the importance of where the student learned it or how long it took to learn,” Pamela Tate, president of the Council for Adult and Experiential Learning, said in a statement Monday.

The council is behind the Competency Based Education Jumpstart initiative, which is being funded by the Lumina Foundation.

Such a program could save college students money, help them get through degree programs much faster and make going back to school a lot less intimidating for nontraditional adult students.

The Missouri Community College Association, in conjunction with the Missouri Department of Higher Education, will be part of the initiative, along with 13 other institutions and systems across the country.

Metropolitan Community College in Kansas City already is granting some competency-assessed credits toward associate degrees.

“The way I look at it, it is another tool in the toolbox, but it is not intended to replace traditional higher education practices,” said MCC chancellor Mark James. “Like online education, it won’t be for everyone, but it’s a viable option for some.”

James said Lumina is helping to cover the expense of sending MCC faculty, staff and administrators to meet with the other institutions and systems.