Phi Beta Cons

N.C. Moves Toward Competency-Based Education

In today’s Pope Center piece, Jesse Saffron writes about the movement in North Carolina (and elsewhere) toward post-secondary educational programs that are geared toward ensuring that students have certain competencies, and not just that they have put in a certain number of hours in class.

It occurs to me that this is the way most of American education used to be. In the distant past, students didn’t get out of a grade unless they had mastered certain competencies, such as writing clear, error-free sentences. Then along came the progressive theorists who changed that and gave us automatic promotion lest any student suffer a loss of self-esteem. Thus, we now have great numbers of young people who graduate from high school without much in the way of competency. If we could get back to competency-based education in K–12, we wouldn’t need to worry much about it for people who are 18 and older. Alas, we probably can’t (in public schools anyway), so this is an important development.

George Leef — George Leef is the director of research for the John William Pope Center for Higher Education Policy.

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