CBE Vindicated by Department of Education

In 2017 the world of competency-based education was shaken by a recommendation from DOE auditor Kathleen Tighe that Western Governors University should pay back $713,000,000 in federal student aid. Why? Because, the audit said, WGU had not met the classic standards pertaining to “regular and substantive interaction” between students and professors, and therefore WGU’s programs should be classified as “correspondence courses” (DOE for scam degrees).

It should be of great interest to everyone pursuing competency-based education that the Department of Ed has chosen not to act on Tighe’s recommendation. On January 11, 2019 the DOE released a statement saying that WGU would not be required to pay back the enormous sum. WGU and its regional accreditor had presented sufficient evidence that standards were being addressed. Furthermore, the DOE pointed to “the ambiguity of the law and regulations and the lack of clear guidance available at the time of the audit period.”

In short, the core accusation against accredited competency-based schools like WGU is failing. The DOE is clearly willing to enter into a healthy regulative relationship with CBE programming, which, in my opinion, is a win for everyone involved.

Nathan Hitchcock