Major Moment in Higher Ed

August 22, 2013

I am traveling today and only caught part of the President’s speech on his plan to hold colleges more accountable and increase affordability for higher education. I will have a more detailed set of thoughts soon, but it seems like the President delivered a highly significant, far-reaching speech.

It re-orients the policy conversation around the thoughtful measurement of outcomes, improvement of outcomes, and accountability for outcomes. Most importantly, the speech gave a presidential boost to competency-based learning broadly and direct assessment specifically. Last week, Capella University became only the second institution to be approved to offer direct assessment programs and the first to offer them at the bachelor and masters level. The President made a strong case for the measurement of learning (direct assessment model) over the measurement of time (credit hour model). This has the potential to allow students, especially working adults, to go faster and pay less.

The President’s speech sets the stage for a powerful and rich conversation among the administration, Congress, higher education institutions, employers, and students about how we move policy forward under the framework the President laid out today. If we all dig into this conversation in a sincere way that moves policy forward to improve educational outcomes, today will be remembered as more than another hot Thursday in August.

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