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CBE Storytelling Contest Details and Rules/Disclosures

Competency-Based Education Network, 2018

C-BEN is now accepting submissions for its CBE Storytelling Contest. We are looking for short, digital stories that showcase CBE programs, students, and institutions. Share your story

See our News & Insights page for more details. See below for the Contest Details and Rules/Disclosures. 

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2018-2019 C-BEN Membership Information

C-BEN Membership Application 2018-19 Academic Year Link: c-benmembership.eventbrite.com

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The CBE Story: A Strategic Storytelling Toolkit (Share Your Vision, Communicate Your Results, Change the Conversation)

Competency-Based Education Network, 2018

C-BEN has released The CBE Story: A Strategic Storytelling Toolkit. The Storytelling Toolkit is designed to help you communicate more effectively about the purpose, value and results of competency-based education. Inside this useful resource, you’ll find a framework for bringing your CBE story to life. There are activities, prompts, tips and templates to help you tell your best stories to different audiences, including students and families; faculty, staff and administrators; governing boards; regulators and policymakers; and employers. You will also find tools and resources that can aid you in helping others, such as students and faculty, to tell their stories.

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Quality Framework for Competency-Based Education Programs: A User’s Guide

Competency-Based Education Network, 2018

CBEN has released the Quality Framework for Competency-Based Education Programs: A User’s Guide to assist institutions in using and adopting C-BEN’s “Quality Framework for Competency-Based Education Programs”. As the number of CBE programs continues to grow, many constituents are looking to build high quality CBE programs in accordance with the Quality Framework. This guide is intended to make the Quality Framework more accessible to institutions wishing to use it. Our goal is not to offer a pathway or the “right answers” to developing and/or improving CBE programs, but rather to offer the high-level, high-leverage questions to be considered to accelerate and enable institutional work. The User’s Guide breaks down each of the 8 Elements of Quality and provides key considerations about where institutions should start, including key people to have at the table, resources needed, institutional illustrations, and pro tips.

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State Policy Considerations for Supporting Competency-Based Education in Higher Education

Allison Bell, Director, HCM Strategists

Competency-based education has been part of the American higher education landscape for decades. It is enjoying
a resurgence of interest driven primarily by efforts to redefine quality of higher education in terms of student learning. Competency-based education has the potential to strengthen and improve learning outcomes for all students, particularly those who are not well served by traditional higher education. This approach to teaching and learning affords learners a more transparent pathway for education and employment, alternative approaches to learning, and better student support. It is a more straightforward way to plan, organize, deliver and support student learning across all disciplines.

Efforts are under way to explore how such programs can increase capacity to help more Americans earn meaningful
postsecondary credentials. There are many factors that contribute to a supportive environment for the growth of competency-based education. Through experimental sites, for example, the federal government is exploring how federal student aid policies can better include competency-based education. At the state level, there are many areas that can encourage or inhibit the growth of competency-based education programs. State policy, the focus of this paper, is one such area.

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Understanding Competency-Based Education Toolkit

HCM Strategists

The tools in this packet will help states describe and discuss competency-based education. These tools can be used to educate legislators, members of higher education commissions or boards, staff at institutions or systems, students and the general public.

  • Frequently Asked Questions About Competency-Based Education. Since many stakeholders have only their own educational experience to draw on, and most progressed through a traditional environment, they might be unfamiliar with competency-based education. This document provides answers to some of the most frequently asked questions about competency-based education.

  • How to Communicate About Competency-Based Education. This is a two-sided document that includes strategies for talking about competency-based education generally and with specific audiences.

  • Comparing Traditional Education and Competency-Based Education. This table highlights some
    of the main differences (and similarities) between traditional education delivery models and competency-based education. It can serve as a starting point for discussion and clarification about competency-based education design and philosophy.

  • Understanding Competency-Based Education and Prior Learning Assessment. There is a tendency for people to conflate competency-based education and prior learning assessment, which is problematic for a variety of reasons. In terms of state policy, many states have implemented legislation around including prior learning assessment as part of their strategy for meeting state attainment goals. If policymakers in those states are being asked to also consider the importance of competency-based education, it is important that they clearly understand the difference. This brief description of both helps to clarify those differences.

  • Costs, State Policies and Competency-Based Education—Considerations for States. As state-level stakeholders seek to encourage the development and growth of competency-based education programs, they will need to understand the costs institutions face and how funding, financial aid and tuition policies might affect program development. This table offers a brief summary of these issues, questions policymakers and others might face and considerations for state policymakers to encourage the growth of competency-based education.

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Exploring State Financial Aid Policies to Set a More Supportive Context for Competency-Based Higher Education in Kentucky

Allison Bell, Director, HCM Strategists

Competency-based is an approach to teaching and learning that transparently articulates the competencies (knowledge, skills and abilities) of which students are expected to demonstrate mastery in order to graduate. Many state policymakers are becoming more interested in how this approach can help their state achieve their education attainment and economic goals as well as how they can set a supportive policy environment for the growth of competency-based education. The brief State Policy Considerations for Competency-Based Education describes the state policy areas that might affect competency-based education. This document builds upon that work. This is a CBE collaboration of Commonwealth College & Learn on Demand. At the time of this publication Western Kentucky University, University of Louisville, Morehead State University and Kentucky State University with guidance for the Council on Postsecondary Education (CPE) are actively developing competency-based education programs in collaboration with institutions across the state. As they do, they will be exploring ways to ensure the state financial aid policies and processes are inclusive of competency-based education. Commonwealth College & Learn on Demand is a unique collaboration in the U.S.


Students participating in competency-based education programs nationwide will likely need access to state financial aid, especially as the programs grow and include more students. Questions need to be answered about how the structural differences of competency-based education programs can be accommodated in state financial aid programs. For example, nationally, CBE programs might not rely on credit hours. They often do not operate according to traditional academic calendars. In these types of programs, students might begin their studies outside the bounds of a traditional academic calendar. Additionally, they progress as they demonstrate mastery of competencies, rather than after a specific amount of time. State financial aid programs often use language around credit hours and academic terms that might inadvertently exclude or create challenges for students enrolled in competency-based education programs.

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Setting a Supportive State Environment By Integrating CBE into Workforce Development Efforts

Allison Bell, Director, HCM Strategists

Competency-based education programs are designed to benefit a wide variety of students. Many features of these kinds of programs are particularly attractive to adult learners and employers. The added supports, flexible timing and scheduling, alignment to workforce needs and clearly articulated expectations may be a better fit than traditional education approaches, particularly for adults who need to develop their skills and earn a degree or certificate while working and caring for their families. A benefit that competency-based education brings to the workforce is the ability for employers to fully understand the knowledge, skills and abilities prospective employees have mastered.


Because of these benefits, many state stakeholders are interested in ensuring a supportive state environment for the growth of competency-based education. As described in State Policy Consideration for Competency-Based Education, state stakeholders who are interested in doing so should explore ways to align these programs with economic needs. In Kentucky, state and institution leaders are hoping to strengthen their competency-based efforts by integrating such programs into their broader workforce development efforts. This brief outlines current workforce development efforts in Kentucky, highlighting which of those might be most appropriate for the integration of a competency-based approach.

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Incorporating Competency Into a State's Higher Education Strategic Plan - Indiana's Strategic Planning Process

Allison Bell, Director, HCM Strategists

Competency-based education is an approach to teaching and learning that focuses on the competencies (knowledge, skills and abilities) that students must master rather than the amount of time spent in class (as measured by credit hours). This approach benefits students and the state in multiple ways. These include clear expectations for what students know and can do upon graduation, the potential for students to progress more quickly as they demonstrate mastery of competencies (or take more time to master more difficult competency areas) and the promise of more equitable outcomes for all students.


Many state agencies, such as the Indiana Commission for Higher Education, are interested in exploring ways to encourage the growth of competency-based education programs. One such way is to ensure that the state policy environment is supportive of these programs. The brief State Policy Considerations for Competency-Based Education describes policy areas that might affect competency-based education. These include appropriations and funding, financial aid, transfer and articulation, and tuition setting. Contextual factors, such as back-office systems and processes, communications and partnerships also are highlighted as important considerations for state policymakers interested in encouraging the growth of competency-based education.


This document builds upon that work by illustrating how the Indiana Commission for Higher Education incorporated competency as a priority in its 2016 strategic plan. It offers options and considerations for states on the process of engaging stakeholders and building support as well as on more specific policy recommendations and considerations.

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