Pioneer in Competency-Based Learning Publishes Five-Year Outcomes Report

Capella University report shares findings from first five years of unique, competency-based direct assessment learning program

MINNEAPOLIS--()--Capella University, the first institution approved to offer federal financial aid for bachelor’s and master’s degrees through a unique direct assessment approach to competency-based learning, today released a report documenting learner outcomes and observations from the program’s first five years of implementation.

The report, “Moving Competency-based Education Forward: Lessons from Five Years of Direct Assessment Implementation”, found that the median learner in Capella’s pioneering FlexPath direct assessment program finished a bachelor’s degree 59 percent faster than similar learners in its credit hour-based programs. The median learner also borrowed 45 percent fewer in federal financial aid, and persisted at 23 percent higher rates than similar learners in Capella’s credit hour-based programs. Since the U.S. Department of Education approved Capella to offer direct assessment through its FlexPath program in 2014, more than 6,000 learners have graduated from FlexPath programs.

For more information on how these findings were calculated, view the full report here.

“Making good on the promise of higher education for a growing population of adult and working learners—who don’t have four years of fully dedicated time and money—requires us to rethink the vestigial constraints that increase not just the cost, but also time-to-completion,” said Dick Senese, president of Capella University. “The outcomes reflected in this report are the result of thoughtful collaboration between accreditors, U.S. Department of Education, faculty and institutional leadership willing to challenge conventional wisdom in ways that respond to the needs of today’s learners.”

Although a growing number of institutions are now implementing competency-based programs, only a handful of institutions have been approved by the Department of Education to offer federal financial aid for their direct assessment offerings, which enables institutions to incorporate rigorous, high-frequency assessments to track and evaluate student progress, while decoupling financial aid from credit hour or “seat time” requirements.

“Though relatively nascent, the potential of the direct assessment approach is clear and it is evident that, at least at Capella, this approach to higher education can benefit learners. This work reflects Capella’s commitment to capturing data and evidence that will enable us to understand the efficacy of existing programs, while also providing benchmarks for quality as new programs scale,” said Charla Long, executive director of the Competency-Based Education Network, who authored the report’s foreword. “I’m encouraged by this new evidence as it shows that by allowing learners to advance at their own pace, they may be able to graduate faster, save money, complete at higher rates - all without compromising quality.”

The report follows Capella’s release in 2017 “Competency-Based Education: A Policy Primer”, which highlighted both the potential of competency-based education and the barriers to its expansion. The earlier report included lessons from adoption and the impact of outstanding policy issues that will enable more competency-based providers to scale.

Capella University (www.capella.edu) is accredited by the Higher Learning Commission. Founded in 1993, the university is dedicated to providing flexible, professionally aligned online degree programs designed to help working adults advance in their careers. Known for its commitment to learner success, academic quality and innovations in online education, Capella pioneered competency-based direct assessment programs, allowing learners to learn at their own pace. For more information, call 1.888.CAPELLA (888.227.3552).

Contacts

Elaine Kincel
elaine.kincel@strategiced.com
202-557-4920

Release Summary

Today Capella University published a report detailing learner outcomes from the first five years of its FlexPath Direct Assessment Program.

Contacts

Elaine Kincel
elaine.kincel@strategiced.com
202-557-4920