October 16, 2019

Congressman Neguse Introduces Legislation to Expand Innovative Higher Education Model and Help Colorado State University Students Earn a Degree in Less Time at a Lower Cost

Washington D.C.— Today, Congressman Joe Neguse, who represents Colorado’s 2nd Congressional District and serves on the House Leadership team in Congress, introduced bicameral legislation to expand an innovative higher education model that allows students to attain a degree in less time and at a lower cost, one that has benefited many students in the CSU-Global program.

The Advancing Competency-Based Education Act of 2019 provides flexibility for competency-based education programs, while at the same time establishing new levels of transparency and accountability. Research shows that more than 60 percent of college students today are working while taking classes, almost 40 percent are older than the age of 25, and nearly 25 percent are raising children while enrolled in school. While many traditional higher education programs are based on time, competency-based education operates differently, and students can advance through their degree as soon as they demonstrate that they have mastered competency. Competency-based education, therefore, can take less time and cost less than a traditional degree program, making it an appealing option for today’s diverse body of college students.

“Competency based education allows students to earn credit for the skills they have, rather than just how long they spend in the classroom,” said Congressman Joe Neguse. “This program ensures that today’s students are offered the flexibility and opportunity necessary to succeed in the classroom and in the 21st century economy.”

“From moms and dads with parenting obligations, to students working two or three jobs, education programs that help students achieve their degree in a way that works for their schedules are critical,” said Senator Maggie Hassan, who is leading companion legislation in the Senate. “This legislation would support competency-based education programs that give students the flexibility that they need to complete their degree and learn the skills that will help them succeed in the workforce.”

The bill has been endorsed by the Competency-Based Education Network (C-BEN), New America, Jobs for the Future, Southern New Hampshire University (SNHU), Colorado State University-Global (CSU-Global), Capella, and Western Governors University (WGU).

“Affordable and flexible options towards college completion are key to meeting today’s modern student needs,” said Dr. Becky Takeda-Tinker, president of Colorado State University-Global Campus. “The bill will provide alternative models to traditional time and credit hour measurements, for the facilitation of program completion through innovation which addresses time and money constraints. Importantly, the bill will also collect data critical to the creation, implementation, and sustainability of such programs. We commend Congressman Neguse for his leadership in helping to provide students with credible and meaningful pathways towards academic and professional success in Colorado and beyond.”

“As one who pursued a degree later in life, I had developed many of the skills necessary. The Prior Learning Assessment program allowed me to demonstrate the skills necessary to advance,” said Brian Freeman, a CSU-Global Graduate Student in Finance. “Without this being available, the repetitiveness, time, and cost may have been prohibitive in obtaining my degree.”

“I wanted my degree in HR, a field I had worked in for 15 years but I didn’t want to learn redundant material.  The Prior Learning Assessment (PLA) was a great way for me to demonstrate my knowledge, save on tuition, and shorten the time needed to earn my academic degree,” said Kathleen Aguilar, a CSU-Global Graduate Student in Human Resource Management. 

“CSU Global’s prior learning assessment program (PLA) allowed me the opportunity to apply my professional experience towards college credit. By utilizing the PLA program I was able to save money and complete my degree earlier than expected,” said Edward Hershey, a CSU-Global Graduate Student in Human Resource Management.

“The Competency-Based Education Network supports the Advancing Competency-Based Education Act of 2019 as it will allow higher education institutions to test, evaluate, and iterate on the outcomes of programs under an entirely new federal structure,” said Charla Long, Executive Director of Competency-Based Education Network. “The flexibility provided in this Act will benefit new and existing CBE programs while helping Congress understand and evaluate the outcomes of those new flexibilities.”

“For more than two decades, WGU has recognized the benefits of competency-based education (CBE) for learners, and we are encouraged by the introduction of the Advancing Competency-Based Education Act of 2019 by Congressman Joe Neguse and Senator Maggie Hassan to advance CBE as much-needed innovation in education,” said Scott Pulsipher, president of Western Governors University. “CBE has proven effective in personalizing learning to expand access, increase flexibility and affordability, and improve outcomes, especially among working learners. CBE has also improved curriculum design to better align learning outcomes with the future of work. This bill is a welcomed step as we all work to accelerate adoption and enable full authorization of CBE.”

Specifically, the Advancing Competency-Based Education Act of 2019 establishes new levels of transparency and accountability by: 

  • providing new information about the students being served in competency-based education programs and how their success compares to similar students in traditional programs;
  • requiring an annual evaluation of each competency-based education program in the demonstration project to determine program quality, the progress of participating students towards earning a degree, and students’ ability to pay off their loans and find employment upon graduation;
  • preparing students for the workforce by requiring programs to align their courses with career pathways and the needs of local employers;
  • allowing competency-based education programs in the demonstration project to request additional flexibility from current statutory and regulatory requirements that are current barriers to implementation;
  • and establishing a Competency-Based Education Council to continue studying the ongoing innovation and development of competency-based education.

The bill is the 22nd introduced by Congressman Neguse since he took office. He has also introduced legislation to provide affordable textbooks to students and to make it easier for students to earn a degree through efficient reverse transfer process. 

Read more on the bill here.