Staff Contact:

Andrea J. Burney, APR

Director of  Public Relations

C-BEN contact: Libby May


DCC Selected to Join Competency-Based Education Network


DANVILLE, VA, February 10, 2015 – Danville Community College has been selected as one of 15 new members in the Competency-Based Education Network (C-BEN), which is supported by Lumina Foundation and managed by Public Agenda.
As part of this new cohort, DCC will send representatives to a three-day working session in Austin, TX, on March 3 when the national group comprising a total of 30 institutions and 4 public systems meets. The college’s ongoing participation in the Network after the working session will ensure that DCC stays on the leading edge of competency-based education techniques as it develops its own line-up of competency-based coursework.

Competency-based education is a promising new approach to helping educate more Americans, with the goal being to graduate competent, credentialed workers who possess skills integral to the success of America’s leading industries. Rather than an entire course or module covering a subject, competency-based learning is usually broken down into individual skills (i.e., competencies) or modules. As a student demonstrates his/her skills in a particular competency, that student is able to then move forward to master the next level of competency.

The advantages to competency-based education are many. For instance, students are able to progress at their own pace -- meaning students who struggle to learn certain competencies can take extra time to master the subject matter before moving ahead in the coursework. Conversely, students who are mastering the subject matter more quickly can move through the coursework at a much faster pace than in traditional course delivery. Competency-based education also enables students to earn credits for life experience or prior learning, as they have the opportunity to skip learning modules by “testing out�? (i.e., demonstrating they already have mastery in that set of skills).

Dr. Bruce Scism, DCC President, said joining the prestigious C-BEN will help the college ensure that the most up-to-date and effective teaching techniques are incorporated into competency-based coursework.

“DCC will be moving forward to develop competency-based modules in a wide range of skills that today’s employers are seeking – IT, precision machining, welding, industrial maintenance, and metrology are a few examples,�? Scism said. “Our industry partners have played an invaluable role in helping us define the most in-demand competencies. Combining the technical capabilities of industry with C-BEN’s educational expertise will enable DCC to provide our students with competency-based options. This is vital to meeting the immediate needs of existing employers as well as new business prospects with which our local economic development experts are working.�?

DCC joins the following colleges as a new member of C-BEN: Central New Mexico Community College in Albuquerque; Concordia University Wisconsin; Davenport University in Grand Rapids, Mich.; Kentucky Commonwealth College (a collaborative effort of Kentucky Council on Postsecondary Education, the University of Louisville and Western Kentucky University); Lord Fairfax Community College in Virginia; Los Angeles Trade-Technical College; Purdue University at West Lafayette; Rasmussen College; Southwestern College in Winfield, Kan.; the University of Michigan at Ann Arbor; Thomas Edison State College in Trenton, N.J.; and Walden University (Laureate Education). In addition, C-BEN will add the University System of Georgia and the University of Texas System, which represent 40 campuses. Some of these institutions have been through the Next Generation Learning Challenges Business Model Incubator, funded by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, and are ready to begin working with the leading institutions.

C-BEN has become a major voice on federal student aid issues and innovative program design. During the past year, leading competency-based institutions have taken part in research-and-development efforts to develop evidence-based approaches that will advance high-quality competency-based education capable of serving students of all backgrounds. In November, C-BEN’s Steering Committee issued a formal call for new members.

“We are thrilled with the continuing interest in our network’s work and competency-based education," said C-BEN Chairwoman Laurie Dodge, vice chancellor of institutional assessment and planning at Brandman University in California. "This new group, as well as the institutions already involved, is dedicated to accelerating model development in ways that also help inform the field. The new members of the network are high-caliber institutions, and we are looking forward to working with them.�?

The addition of new members will strengthen the network, allowing more work to be undertaken in areas such as defining quality program outcomes and learning assessment, understanding which students are likely to benefit from emerging models, and establishing standards for back-office processes and systems affecting registrars, financial aid officers, and commercial vendors. Additional support from Lumina will support more frequent and detailed reporting out of findings and will enable work to continue through mid-2017 to give the network time and support to identify options for sustaining itself.

Changing student populations and calls for affordability and innovation in higher education have heightened interest among colleges and universities in developing competency-based degree programs. Since late 2012, more than 200 institutions have expressed interest in developing or implementing competency-based degree programs.

Learn more about C-BEN at:

About Public Agenda
Public Agenda is a nonprofit organization that helps diverse leaders and citizens navigate divisive and complex issues. Through nonpartisan research and engagement, it provides people with the insights and support they need to arrive at workable solutions on critical issues, regardless of their differences. Since 1975, Public Agenda has helped foster progress on K-12 and higher education reform, health care, federal and local budgets, energy and immigration.

About Lumina Foundation
Lumina Foundation is an independent, private foundation committed to increasing the proportion of Americans with high-quality degrees, certificates and other credentials to 60 percent by 2025. Lumina’s outcomes-based approach focuses on helping to design and build an accessible, responsive and accountable higher education system while fostering a national sense of urgency for action to achieve Goal 2025.


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