Interstate Passport Initiative

January 9, 2014

Inside Higher Ed outlined a promising development in higher education, the credit hour and transfer programs today.

The Interstate Passport Initiative, a set of mutually agreed-upon learning outcomes that are a new way of thinking about students transferring between institutions, was announced this week. This initiative is led by the Western Interstate Commission for Higher Education (WICHE). It is now possible for students to transfer from one of the 16 participating institutions to another by showing they hold certain competencies.

Institutions on both sides of the process decide which courses and credits equate with competency. The receiving institution also decides which credits a transfer student should earn for his or her proven proficiency.

This project is important for what it signals about the credit hour and college transcripts. The Interstate Passport Initiative goes beyond the credit hour – “it could contribute to the ‘unbundling’ of higher education, where assessed learning typically trumps time spent in the traditional classroom.” It is a widespread belief that college transcripts are inadequate at depicting student learning; by measuring proficiencies and competencies, one could get a better idea of what a student accomplished at their institution.

This initiative could create a more streamlined transfer process and save money along the way. The leaders of the project are hopeful that many more colleges and higher education systems will sign on and participate.

See the full article here.

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Fighting the affordability crisis

January 8, 2014


Capella’s President Scott Kinney wrote a powerful article in the Hechinger Report today on how innovation in higher education can help make college more affordable.

To address this national crisis, we must support innovation in higher ed. By re-thinking how we deliver high-quality education through models like direct assessment, we can reduce the cost of the degree and still maintain academic rigor and quality.

Scott makes an important point about the urgency needed when trying to fix this problem in our country. He states that a robust, highly-educated workforce that has the mastery of the skills needed in tomorrow’s labor market is essential for the U.S. to remain competitive in the global economy. Unless we encourage innovation and rethink fundamentals soon, the percentage of Americans with college degrees could actually decline due to the crippling amount that a college degree costs.

Here is a link to Scott’s article, “Fighting the affordability crisis by linking new learning models to outcomes.”

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2013 – Year in Review

December 30, 2013

2013 was an important year for Capella and competency-based education.

In March, the U.S. Department of Education invited higher education institutions to submit programs for consideration under Title IV federal financial aid that did not rely on seat time. The concept of “competency-based education” that uses direct assessment is not a brand-new idea, but it has always been constrained from full implementation by multiple federal rules. One of the most notable rules was the fact that in order to qualify for federal financial aid, online courses had to last for a full term and follow a set curriculum.

In August, this all changed. The Department of Education approved Capella’s FlexPath direct-assessment program and waived these rules. Capella is one of the first universities to get this approval and launch a competency-based program that utilizes direct assessment. In October, Capella officially rolled out our FlexPath program for our bachelor’s degree in business and MBA programs. With FlexPath, students work at their own pace to complete a series of assessments in each course. A key advantage of this approach is that it allows the student to move quickly through subjects in which they are already proficient.

Here are a couple examples of coverage on FlexPath and competency based education.


2013 was also an exciting year for Capella’s social media presence. Our Facebook page reached 50,000 likes this month.  Capella is grateful for the opportunity to build and connect with our adult learners and those exploring the possibility of continuing their education.


I hope you have a great start to your new year, and I look forward to connecting with you in 2014.

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Capella Named Winner of College Scorecard Design Challenge

December 23, 2013

Earlier this year, the Lumina Foundation announced a “College Scorecard Challenge” built around suggestions for strengthening the College Scorecard the White House released last February. Jillian Klein, Capella’s director of Public and Financial Aid Policy, worked with a cross-functional team to put forward a submission from Capella. The submission was built around our ideas for making a college scorecard that could better inform learner choices and serve as a basis for thoughtful data-based policy solutions. Last week, Lumina announced that out of 390 submissions received, Capella’s submission was the winner!

College Scorecard

Capella’s design “offered many layers of institutional comparisons including popular majors, career upon graduation and forecasted ‘break even’ dates. It also illustrated measures that would make a college comparison tool more student-centric such as creating individual student profiles and including college iconography throughout the platform.”

A huge thank you to the Capella team that made this a huge success.

Here is a link to the press release Lumina sent out.

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The Capella learning community [INFOGRAPHIC]

December 4, 2013

Our current infographic showcases the unique learning community at Capella University. Our professionally minded students span all 50 states and 61 countries. What makes our learning community unique is that 95% of our students attend part-time and have an average age of 40. This snapshot reflects the changing face of higher education – it is time to focus higher ed policy on this emerging reality.

By measuring learning on a direct assessment model over the measurement of time, we will have the potential to allow students, especially working adults, to complete their degrees faster and pay less. Capella’s FlexPath model aligns specific competencies with the needs of employers as well as critical societal needs, and provides busy working adults the flexibility they need to complete their program.


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