Giving Compass' Take:

• Natalie Schwartz, writing for Education Dive, discusses how higher education institutions are finding creative pathways to offer competency-based education programs.

• What are the primary barriers to making CBE programs viable across all colleges and universitieS? 

• Here are five trends for seeding competency-based education. 

Nearly 25 years ago, 18 governors gathered in Park City, Utah, and found common ground in the problems that plagued colleges in their home states. Their complaints are familiar, even today: There was too much regulation, too many hang-ups with accreditation and too much resistance to meaningfully improve higher education.

So, they decided, they would build their own university from the bottom-up.

Two ideas emerged during that 1995 meeting that formed the backbone of the hypothetical university, according to an account by Kevin Kinser, now head of the education policy studies department at Penn State University.

The second suggestion was a more radical suggestion: awarding credentials based on whether students could prove they mastered a skill, instead of how much time they spent in the classroom. Colorado's governor, Roy Romer, suggested the governors create a university to pilot the idea.

The idea, competency-based education (CBE), traces its origins back hundreds of years with the use of outcomes-based learning in fields requiring technical skills or licenses, such as the military and the law. But it had never before been attempted at scale.

Although interest has grown around CBE, it has failed to gain widespread adoption in higher ed.

Colleges must clear various institutional and regulatory hurdles to implement CBE. That could change as an outcome of the U.S. Department of Education's negotiated rulemaking on accreditation, which is also addressing the credit hour and rules governing online learning.

"You have to acknowledge the boundaries of what the rules are and then figure out bureaucratically and administratively friendly … ways to do this," said Howard Lurie, principal analyst for online and continuing education at Eduventures. "Innovation comes in these small little doses. I think you need a more systematic, broader scale approach."

Read the full article about competency-based education by Natalie Schwartz at Education Dive