Credential Engine and C-BEN Partnership Builds Capacity for Competency-Based Programs

Competency-based education (CBE) centers the focus of awarding credentials on mastery of employer defined competencies, rather than time spent in a program, allowing greater flexibility to the learner and increased employability. Delivering competency-based credentials requires managing and integrating key information across multiple phases of a credential’s lifecycle, from the initial design of the credential to digital credentials issued to individuals. Yet coordinating competency-based credentials and their related information across multiple departments, roles, and systems has been a persistent challenge for institutions.

The Competency-Based Education Network (C-BEN) and Credential Engine have partnered to help address this challenge. Specifically, the partnership helps institutions capture, integrate, and manage credential, competency, assessment, and quality information using the Credential Transparency Description Language (CTDL) and Credential Registry. The goal is to increase the visibility of the quality of CBE programs by improving operational processes, quality assurance reporting, and technology platforms that provide public forums for marketing and reaching potential learners.

Understanding CTDL and the Credential Registry

CTDL is a data language for describing credential offerings in a manner that can be read and understood by both humans and machines. It contains over 1,000 terms for describing different aspects of credential ecosystems, covering everything from a credential’s name and type to required courses, assessments, competencies, and associated outcomes. The Credential Registry enables authorized roles, such as institutional leaders and registrars, to use CTDL for describing their credentials and competencies as transparent linked open interoperable data. Information in the Credential Registry can be publicly accessed, filtered, queried, downloaded, and integrated into other systems to support a variety of opportunities, including student dashboards, digital credentials, and career pathways. CTDL is open-source and entirely vendor agnostic, meaning that there is no vendor lock-in when using it.

Quality Framework Example

CTDL also provides structure for transparent data about the quality of CBE programs. C-BEN has published their Quality Framework to the Credential Registry (see C-BEN’s Quality Framework for Competency-Based Education Programs – Elements and Principles and their linked standards and rubrics). Many of these quality elements pertain directly to credential transparency and can be advanced by publishing rich credential information to the Credential Registry. For example, C-BEN’s quality element #7, “Transparency of Learning”, can be supported by publishing a credential’s required competencies. Information about many aspects of a credential can be published in support of the Quality Framework, such as assessments, courses, occupations, pathways, transfer value, licenses, accreditation, outcomes, and more.

Credential issuers can also document how their programs use the Quality Framework, whether for program development, academic reviews, or ongoing program refinement. Consider an institution that regularly develops competency-based curriculum, instruction, and assessments. This process information can now be described using a ‘development process profile’and linked to the associated Quality Framework’s standards in the Credential Registry. Publishing this information to the Credential Registry can help formalize reporting for quality assurance processes and help the public to understand the depth and rigor of programs.

Embarking on the Journey

For institutions looking to enhance their quality and distinguish their CBE programs, the first steps include using C-BEN’s Quality Framework, setting up your free C-BEN membership and Credential Registry accounts, and using these open tools to publish your credentials and competencies. There are many resources and support services available from our teams to help you put together an effective implementation plan for your institution.

Transparent data about your CBE programs and competencies is essential for building a future where everyone has the information they need to make informed choices, fostering ecosystems of lifelong learning and career development.

Call to action

Show how you are using the Quality Framework and distinguish your programs in the Credential Registry today by completing the following checklist.

For more information about Credential Engine

About the Competency-Based Education Network (C-BEN)

C-BEN is a network of institutions, employers, and experts who believe competencies can unlock the future of learning — making education and training more flexible, responsive, and valuable. We support stakeholders across the spectrum of competency-based learning, from institutions and employers who want to embed competencies into their existing programs to those looking to design full competency-based degree programs from the ground up. For more information, visit

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