Measuring Student Success in Postsecondary Competency-Based Education Programs: Toward a Student Outcomes Metrics Framework

Carlos Rivers

The growth of the postsecondary competency-based education (CBE) ecosystem is contingent on CBE programs demonstrating that they fulfill core value propositions for students, including improving access, success, quality, and affordability.

To support program leaders and researchers in building evidence about student outcomes in CBE programs, AIR and the Institute for Competency-Based Education at Texas A&M University-Commerce developed this brief, which proposes a CBE Student Outcomes Metrics (SOM) Framework for descriptive and evaluative research.

Drawing on other early research, the Framework articulates metrics that can be used across many CBE program types to build toward a common language about CBE students and outcomes. In addition, the brief articulates key challenges to that common language, calling for CBE program leaders and researchers to engage in field-wide conversations about addressing them.

The Framework includes three levels of metrics, each with different uses:

  1. Within-CBE program metrics, which can be used for internal tracking and continuous improvement efforts
  2. Across-CBE program Metrics, which can be used across CBE programs to uncover trends and, when metrics are disaggregated, begin to answer questions about equity
  3. Across-Field Metrics, which can typically be applied across CBE and traditional programs to facilitate rigorous research comparing student outcomes in each model.
Kelle Parsons
Senior Researcher