Competency Based Education: SUNY Empire State College

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             In March of 2013, the State University of New York (SUNY) board of trustees announced a bold vision outlining how prior-learning assessment, competency-based programs, and MOOCs will inform a plan to ensure that students complete degrees on time and for reduced cost. According to the announcement, the new initiative—Open SUNY—would “bring all online courses offered at each of the system’s 64 campuses onto a shared and comprehensive online environment, making them accessible to all of the system’s 468,000 students and 88,000 faculty.”

Significantly, the pre-existing prior-learning assessment and competency-based programs of SUNY’s Empire State College were to serve as the mechanism driving that initiative.  Nancy L. Zimpher, SUNY chancellor, cited SUNY Empire State College’s expertise in this area as the foundation for the system-wide initiative: “The prior-learning expertise at Empire State would make it possible for the New York system to undertake the new effort.”

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