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H.R. 3136 (113th): Advancing Competency-Based Education Demonstration Project Act of 2014


The text of the bill below is as of Sep 19, 2013 (Introduced).


I

113th CONGRESS

1st Session

H. R. 3136

IN THE HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES

September 19, 2013

(for himself, Mr. Polis, Mrs. Brooks of Indiana, and Mr. Andrews) introduced the following bill; which was referred to the Committee on Education and the Workforce

A BILL

To establish a demonstration program for competency-based education.

1.

Short title

This Act may be cited as the Advancing Competency-Based Education Demonstration Project Act of 2013 .

2.

Distance education demonstration programs

Part G of title IV of the Higher Education Act of 1965 ( 20 U.S.C. 1088 et seq. ) is amended by inserting after section 486A the following:

486B.

Competency-based education demonstration programs

(a)

Purpose

It is the purpose of this section—

(1)

to allow demonstration programs that are monitored by the Secretary to explore ways of delivering education and disbursing student financial aid that are based on learning rather than time;

(2)

to potentially lower cost and reduce the time to degree in the attainment of higher education degrees through competency-based programs; and

(3)

to help determine—

(A)

the specific statutory and regulatory requirements which should be altered to provide greater access to competency-based education, which may be independent of or combined with traditional credit hour or clock hour programs;

(B)

the most effective means of delivering competency-based education via degree programs; and

(C)

the appropriate level and distribution methodology of Federal assistance for students enrolled in competency-based education.

(4)

Definition

For the purpose of this section, the term competency-based education means an educational process that—

(A)

is characterized by the measurement of learning as opposed to the measurement of instructional and learning time;

(B)

uses direct assessment of student learning, or recognizes the direct assessment by others of student learning, in place of or in addition to using credit hours or clock hours; and

(C)

includes direct measures of learning, including projects, papers, examinations, presentations, performances, and portfolios.

(b)

Demonstration programs authorized

(1)

In general

In accordance with the provisions of subsection (d), the Secretary is directed to select institutions of higher education, systems of such institutions, or consortia of such institutions for voluntary participation in a Competency-Based Education Demonstration Program that provides participating institutions with the ability to offer competency-based education that do not meet all or a portion of the requirements of the sections or regulations described in paragraph (2) .

(2)

Waivers

The Secretary is authorized to waive for any institution of higher education, system, or consortium participating in a Competency-Based Education Demonstration Program, the requirements of sections 481(a) and 481(b) as such sections relate to requirements for a minimum number of weeks of instruction, sections 102(a)(3)(A), 102(a)(3)(B), and 484(l)(1), section 668.32(a)(1)(iii) of title 34, Code of Federal Regulations, as it relates to courses leading to teacher certification, or one or more of the regulations prescribed under this part or part F which inhibit the operation of competency-based education. In addition to the waivers described above, for institutions that propose a rational and defensible plan for competency-based education and for the waivers being sought, the Secretary may waive any of the requirements under sections (and corresponding regulations) in title I, part F of this title, and this part, that inhibit the operation of competency-based education, including requirements that relate to—

(A)

documenting attendance;

(B)

weekly academic activity;

(C)

minimum weeks of instructional time;

(D)

requirements for credit hour/clock hour equivalencies;

(E)

requirements for substantive interaction with faculty; and

(F)

definitions of the terms academic year , full-time student , term (including standard term , non-term , and non-standard term ), satisfactory academic progress (SAP), educational activity , program of study , and payment period .

(3)

Eligible applicants

(A)

Eligible institutions

Except as provided in subparagraph (B) , to be eligible to participate in the demonstration program authorized under this section an institution shall be—

(i)

an institution of higher education that is eligible to participate in programs under this title; or

(ii)

an institution that has been approved to offer direct assessment programs under section 481(b)(4).

(B)

Prohibition

An institution of higher education described in section 102(a)(1)(C) shall not be eligible to participate in the demonstration program authorized under this section.

(c)

Application

(1)

In general

Each institution, system of institutions, or consortium of institutions desiring to participate in a demonstration program under this section shall submit an application to the Secretary.

(2)

Contents

Each application shall include—

(A)

a description of the competency-based education to be offered;

(B)

a brief description of the proposed academic delivery, business, and financial models, including brief explanations of how this approach would result in the achievement of competencies and how it would differ from standard credit hour approaches;

(C)

a description of the statutory and regulatory requirements described in subsection (b)(2) for which a waiver is sought and the reasons for which each such waiver is sought;

(D)

a description of the proposal for determining a student’s Federal student aid eligibility, the award and distribution of aid, and safeguards to ensure that students are making satisfactory progress that warrants disbursement of such aid;

(E)

a description of the students to whom competency-based education will be offered, including an assurance that the institution, system, or consortium will include a minimum of 100 and a maximum of 3,000 eligible students as part of the program;

(F)

a description of the goals the institution, system, or consortium hopes to achieve through the use of competency-based education;

(G)

a description of how the institution, system, or consortium plans to maintain program integrity;

(H)

an assurance that the institution, system, or consortium will offer full cooperation with the ongoing evaluations of the demonstration program provided for in this section and will not require the expenditure of additional Federal funding to implement the project; and

(I)

such other information as the Secretary may require.

(d)

Selection

(1)

In general

Not later than 6 months after the date of enactment of this section, the Secretary shall select for participation in the Competency-Based Education Demonstration Program not more than 20 institutions, systems of institutions, or consortia of institutions.

(2)

Considerations

In selecting institutions, systems, or consortia to participate in the demonstration program, the Secretary shall—

(A)

consider the number and quality of applications received;

(B)

consider an institution’s, system’s, or consortium’s—

(i)

demonstrated ability to successfully execute the program as described;

(ii)

commitment and ability to effectively finance a demonstration site as proposed; and

(iii)

demonstrated administrative capability and the expertise to evaluate learning based on measures other than credit hours or clock hours; and

(C)

ensure the participation of a diverse group of institutions (including institutions within systems and consortia of institutions) with respect to size, mission, and geographic distribution of the institutions.

(e)

Notification

Not later than 6 months after the date of enactment of this section, the Secretary shall make available to the authorizing committees and the public a list of institutions, systems, and consortia selected to participate in the demonstration program authorized by this section. Such list shall include, for each such institution, system, or consortium, the specific statutory and regulatory requirements being waived and a description of the competency-based education courses to be offered.

(f)

Evaluations and reports

(1)

Evaluation

The Secretary shall annually evaluate each of the demonstration programs authorized under this section. Such evaluations shall review—

(A)

the extent to which the institution, system, or consortium has met the goals set forth in its application to the Secretary, including the measures of program quality assurance;

(B)

the number and types of students participating in the programs offered, including the progress of participating students toward recognized degrees and the extent to which participation and retention in such programs increased;

(C)

obstacles related to student financial assistance for competency-based education; and

(D)

the extent to which statutory or regulatory requirements not waived under the demonstration program present difficulties for students or institutions.

(2)

Annual report

The Secretary shall annually provide to the authorizing committees a report on—

(A)

the evaluations of the demonstration programs required under paragraph (1) ;

(B)

the number and types of students receiving assistance under this title for competency-based education programs;

(C)

the retention and completion rates of students participating in such programs; and

(D)

any proposed statutory changes designed to support and enhance the expansion of competency-based education.

(g)

Oversight

In conducting the demonstration program authorized under this section, the Secretary shall, on a continuing basis—

(1)

assure compliance of institutions, systems, and consortia with the requirements of this title (other than the sections and regulations that are waived under subsection (b)(2));

(2)

provide technical assistance;

(3)

monitor fluctuations in the student population enrolled in the participating institutions, systems, and consortia; and

(4)

consult with appropriate accrediting agencies or associations and appropriate State regulatory authorities.

(h)

Additional funds not authorized

No additional funds are authorized to be appropriated for any fiscal year to carry out this section.

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