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Granting Credits for Skills, Not Seat Time
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An open letter released this week by the U.S. Department of Education encourages colleges to obtain federal approval to develop competency-based degree programming, moving away from the traditional approach of awarding credits for  time spent in class.

Although the letter is not intended to change the federal regulations in place for higher education, it is seeking to offer guidance to post-secondary institutions looking to create programs that issue credits based on skill mastery rather than credit hours.

It was also announced this week that Southern New Hampshire University is moving forward with a “direct assessment” education model through their own program called “College for America”. This model would be completely competency-based and does not have any class time requirements in order for students to receive credits. It is anticipated that other higher education institutions may follow suit as well, including Capella University, Northern University and Bellevue University.

“This is a key step forward in expanding access to affordable higher education,” Arne Duncan, the U.S. secretary of education, said in a written statement. “We know many students and adult learners across the country need the flexibility to fit their education into their lives or work through a class on their own pace, and these competency-based programs offer those features.”

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