As noted in presentations last week at the Heartland Workforce Summit, WGU-Missouri is leading the way in competency-based learning as an efficient means for the workforce to gain skills in high demand at a lower cost and quicker path. More of Missouri’s two-year and four-year colleges are experimenting with the model as part of the nationwide Jumpstart initiative.
Council for Adult and Experiential Learning (CAEL) Competency Based Education (CBE) Jumpstart program tapped the Missouri Community College Association (MCCA) and the Missouri Department of Higher Education (MDHE) as one of 14 partners nationwide. According to a press release by MDHE, the program aims to increase completion rates at the state’s two- and four-year colleges and universities. CBE Jumpstart focuses on competency-based education and credit for prior learning, which can reduce the amount of time required to earn a degree. The two Missouri agencies will be working collaboratively with higher education institutions in the state to implement the program.
Competency-based education allows students to learn at their own pace based on their mastery of the knowledge and skills needed for a degree. Credit for prior learning programs award college credit based on students’ knowledge and skills, including experience acquired during military service.
The Jumpstart Program will provide training for staff working to establish the knowledge and skill levels students must demonstrate to earn a degree. The work includes the development of new ways to assess student learning at the college level.
Colleges and universities in Missouri are in the early stages of developing competency-based education programs. The programs focus on adult and nontraditional students, including veterans, who have gained knowledge and skills through prior employment and military service. Students demonstrate their learning through a variety of assessments and often can move on to advanced courses more rapidly as they work toward a degree.
Competency-based education is one way Missouri can help students complete a postsecondary degree and create the educated workforce we need,” said David Russell, commissioner of higher education. “By 2018, nearly 60 percent of the jobs in our state will require a two- or four-year degree or professional certificate.”
Currently, students participating in two programs at Missouri community colleges – MoHealthWINs and MoManufacturing WINs – can earn college credit through competency-based education and credit for prior learning. The Jumpstart Program will provide further support for the MoWINs programs, which offer low-cost training for high-demand health care and manufacturing industries.
“The Jumpstart training will provide an excellent opportunity to ensure that the work our community colleges are doing in MoHealthWINs and MoManufacturingWINs has a lasting impact,” said Zora Mulligan, director of the Missouri Community College Association.
Missouri will begin the Jumpstart Program training this fall.