JULY 30, 2014

Salmon-Polis Bill on Competency-Based Education passes the House of Representatives

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WASHINGTON, D.C.  – The House of Representatives unanimously passed H.R. 3136, the Advancing Competency-Based Education Demonstration Project Act, sponsored by Representatives Matt Salmon (AZ-05) and Jared Polis (CO-02), by a vote of 414-0. The bill would increase access and affordability in higher education by allowing institutions the flexibility to provide a degree that is based on a student’s knowledge and skills instead of seat time.

“It is rare to have bills that would do so much for our country pass either chamber of Congress unanimously, but this bill would do so much for students that it’s really a no-brainer,” said Representative Salmon. “It is common sense to evaluate students on what they know rather than how long they spend in a classroom, but years of government regulation have created a system that places more value on credit hours than years of actual experience.  This bill is a boon for so many, including our veterans and non-traditional students who have often performed above and beyond their instructor’s level of proficiency in a certain area.  These students will now be rewarded, instead of penalized, for that experience.  With such an overwhelming vote in the House, and the President’s support, it is my hope that the Senate will soon bring this bill to the floor and help us make college more accessible and affordable for students across our nation.”

“I am thrilled that the House of Representatives recognized the promise of competency-based education by overwhelmingly passing this bipartisan bill,” said Representative Polis. “This legislation will allow colleges and universities the flexibility to shorten the time it takes to earn a degree and reduce college cost through self-paced programs based on student comprehension, rather than seat time. Competency-based education can increase access to higher education for contemporary students, who may have a full-time job, a family, or other commitments that make it difficult to achieve a postsecondary degree with the conventional schedule. I urge the Senate to bring this bipartisan legislation to the floor for a vote, so that we can provide high-quality colleges and universities with the flexibility to meet their students’ needs, and to study the opportunities competency-based education presents to cater to the needs of adult learners, decrease college costs, and increase innovation in higher education.”

Currently, institutions of higher education must adhere to rigid structures, based on the Carnegie unit, or credit hour, which limit the schedules on which students can enroll and when students can receive financial aid. Competency-based education can help speed up to completion, making higher education more affordable for students who need flexibility to achieve their dream of a postsecondary credential.

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