We’ve been looking into what schools, districts, networks, and impact organizations are doing to accelerate progress toward an effective CBE system, and in July we will release a full publication highlighting our research and analysis. In the meantime, we have assembled a series of initial lists of positive examples in various areas.

The initiatives highlighted below are interesting and forward-leaning examples of ways that employers and higher education providers are designing competency-based programs.

This list is not intended to be comprehensive, but is a sampling of tools identified as exemplars by people we’ve interviewed and/or other sources we’ve encountered in our research. We invite you to suggest other initiatives making a difference in the comments section below.

Corporate Examples

Bite-Sized Units for Corporate learning. Corporations are moving toward bite-sized video units and certificates. Two examples of course-based platforms moving toward shorter competency-based units include the 2U acquisition of South African GetSmarter and Instructure’s acquisition of Practice.

Hire When Ready Skills Verification. With support from the Chan Zuckerberg Initiative, [email protected] will deploy skills-validation solutions that allow job seekers to demonstrate their skills to employers, be interviewed by experienced volunteers, get feedback, and be “hired-when-ready.”

Degreed. Automated Skills Assessment. Make a skill claim, provide evidence and two or three references, and after peer and expert review, Degreed sends you a certificate scored from 1 to 8.

Massive Open Online Courses (MOOCs). Popular for post-baccalaureate education, particularly in computer science. MOOC providers—including, edX, Udacity, and Coursera—offer multi-course certifications (nanodegrees and specializations, respectively) in technical subjects.

Digital Marketing Certificate. A group of marketers from companies including Google, Bonobos, Priceline, Kellogg, and L’Oréal joined the Digital Marketing Standards Board in the hopes of refining the process of talent acquisition and development. Skill tests will be available for categories like creative assessment, data and analytics, search engine marketing, social, and positioning and messaging.

Higher Education Examples

College for America provides applied and flexible learning for working adults. Southern New Hampshire University’s College for America provides accessible, affordable, achievable higher education, specifically targeting underprepared and low-income working adults. By conducting 30 projects, working adults develop and demonstrate 120 competencies to earn an AA degree; another 20 projects earns them a BA.

Guild Education recognizes prior learning and builds customized pathways. Connecting with employers is key; it helps when employers support AdultEd. Guild Education is a startup promoting education as a benefit with rapid online degree pathways supported by advocates.

Minerva is a super selective competency-based college. In its third year, Minerva measures critical and creative thinking communication and social interaction—97 discrete habits of success and foundational concepts—through papers, projects, and participation. They also give the CLA+ exam before and after the first year to demonstrate growth in critical thinking and communication.

Relay Graduate School of Education and Woodrow Wilson Academy are both examples of competency-based graduate schools of education targeted towards teachers and school leaders.

What other examples would you add? As mentioned above, please feel free to contribute to the list by adding a comment below.

Additionally, keep an eye out in the coming weeks for follow-up lists that will highlight other interesting CBE resources, initiatives, and difference-makers! And be sure to check back for the final publication, which will be launched in mid-July.

This post is part of a series focused on competency-based education in partnership with XQ Institute. The series highlights findings from research and interviews conducted during the development of the upcoming white paper, “Show What You Know: The State of Competency-Based Education.”

For more, see:


Stay in-the-know with all things EdTech and innovations in learning by signing up to receive the weekly Smart Update. This post includes mentions of a Getting Smart partner. For a full list of partners, affiliate organizations and all other disclosures, please see our Partner page.

LEAVE A REPLY

Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here