Calbright College and CBE Lessons
CBE advocates would do well to back off on pure-play direct assessment
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I was recently interviewed by Danielle McLean for Higher Ed Dive for today’s article “Calbright zeroes in on adult student support after rocky start: California’s free online community college is launching programs and hitting state mandates — but one analyst says its certificate awards are still too low.” Yes, I am that bothersome analyst.
The context is that Calbright has recently improved their enrollments, from 481 students in July 2021 to 3,240 in July 2023, based on the milestone report released just over a month ago. Beyond enrollment, Calbright has also launched 17 new programs to meet a state legislative milestone.
There are three aspects of this story that are worth looking into in terms of broader lessons for competency-based education (CBE) programs and the need for adaptation.
Outcomes, not just inputs
The outcomes comment of mine is that 286 total certificates awarded in the past 3+ years is ridiculously low given the nearly $100 million already spent and given the short (could be completed in a few months) programs - we’re not talking 2+ year degrees here. Note below that this is a cumulative chart.
Mikhail Zinshteyn, writing at CalMatters in April, showed how all but one program cohort had completion rates of less than 10%.
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