Implementation of Competency-Based Education in Community Colleges: Findings from the Evaluation of a TAACCCT Grant

Year 3 Implementation Report
Publisher: Oakland, CA: Mathematica Policy Research
Nov 23, 2015
Ann E. Person, Lisbeth Goble, Julie Bruch, and Jessie Mazeika

Key Findings:

  • CBE curriculum development requires a higher degree of collaboration and standardization than is typically found in community college programs.
  • Because CBE courses and programs require students to work through their academic programs independently and often remotely, enhanced learner supports (such as academic coaching, pacing charts, and just-in-time interventions) can help students succeed.
  • CBE programs can be launched without first resolving all cultural and structural issues within a college, but such issues need to be addressed proactively over time.
  • CBE models should be one of multiple options for college students, especially because they appear best suited for those who are mature and academically well prepared. 

This report details how a consortium led by Sinclair Community College (Dayton, Ohio) and including Austin Community College (Austin, Texas) and Broward College (Fort Lauderdale, Florida) worked with Western Governors University (WGU) to adapt and adopt the WGU model of online, competency-based education (CBE) under a grant from the U.S. Department of Labor Trade Adjustment Assistance Community College and Career Training (TAACCCT) grant program. Drawing on data from site visits, document review, and administrative data, the study examines the challenges and successes grantee colleges encountered in curriculum development and delivery, student supports, and industry and workforce engagement, highlighting lessons learned from program implementation.