Greater Texas Foundation Funds C-BEN to Support State CBE Efforts

Greater Texas Foundation (the foundation) has selected Competency-Based Education Network (C-BEN) to lead competency-based education (CBE) efforts across five Texas institutions. C-BEN will support a cohort of Texas institutions to establish CBE programs that provide students with affordable and efficient pathways to living-wage careers. The $789,600 grant from the foundation will support the establishment of CBE programs in the fields of nursing, organizational leadership, hospitality, peer support, and liberal arts.

Through Greater Texas Foundation’s funding, C-BEN will provide technical assistance and support to build and implement CBE programs, as well as capture lessons learned to inform other Texas schools, including documenting state policy barriers and incentives that would allow CBE to scale in Texas. The grant is scheduled to begin in October 2022 and continue through fall 2024.

This grant is part of an ongoing project that supports Texas’ new statewide higher education plan, Building a Talent Strong Texas. The plan notes that “higher education leaders, educators, employers, and policymakers have a unique opportunity to better align the educational opportunities Texas offers with the skills Texans need.” The plan focuses on strategies to support learners, including: course and program redesign, credit for prior learning, flexible program options, work-based and related learning opportunities, and embedded student supports.

The foundation recognizes that in order to meet these goals, the path to a credential must be affordable, clear, and efficient. The structure of programs that ensures employability, embeds advising and student supports, and decreases time to completion and costs are critical.

“If we’re serious about increasing credential attainment for all Texans, we have to adapt to meet the needs of today’s students,” said Sue McMillin, President and CEO of Greater Texas Foundation. “Competency-based education meets students where they are and has the potential to reduce time and cost to degree for many students. We are excited to continue to support this work and to see the impact it will have on students and the pipeline of skilled graduates entering the Texas workforce.”

Quality CBE programs, grounded in labor market value, enable all of the strategies in the Building a Talent Strong Texas to be deployed and help the state meet its goal of 550,000 students completing a credential of value each year.

This grant is Phase II of a larger collaboration between Greater Texas Foundation and C-BEN. Phase I began in 2020, when C-BEN worked with the foundation to execute a competitive application process for four-year institutions to join a Texas CBE Design Collaboratory. Each of the selected cross-institutional teams was guided through a step-by-step planning process to work with at least one employer partner and create the blueprints for a CBE program in a high-need industry. The proposed programs targeted returning adults, with particular interest in those not well-served.

Now, Phase II is designed to support a full launch of CBE programs, guide continuous improvement, budget and plan for growth, and use lessons to create a policy brief.

Institutions from Phase I are eager to continue to work with C-BEN in Phase II. Interim Dean Lilia A. Fuentes at the University of Texas Rio Grande Valley School of Nursing shared:

“Competency-based education provides the framework for our School of Nursing to facilitate an educational environment that is consistent and well-defined and allow our BSN students to master content proficiently.”

In Phase II, C-BEN will provide quality principles, solutions to overcome barriers, and support for institutions to build, launch, and track learner outcomes from properly designed CBE programs. In turn, C-BEN and the participating institutions can prove the effectiveness of CBE models for providing affordable, clear, and efficient credential attainment pathways for students.

C-BEN President Dr. Charla Long is ready to continue the work underway. “Extending our CBE efforts to a second phase is critical,” stated C-BEN President Dr. Charla Long. “We know that CBE works to eliminate disparities in educational outcomes of students from historically underserved populations. We are proud to continue our collaboration with Greater Texas Foundation and the participating institutions, and we know our efforts will create a better, more equitable education ecosystem in Texas.”

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 C-BEN.org

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