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55 New England Colleges and Universities Support Stronger Student Preparation

All the public institutions of higher education in Connecticut, Maine, New Hampshire, Rhode Island, and Vermont have joined the New England Secondary School Consortium and three private institutions to endorse educational approaches that can strengthen student preparation for college, modern careers, and adult life.

Over the past decade, the movement to adopt competency-based approaches to teaching, learning, and graduating has gained momentum in New England, and throughout the country, as more educators, parents, business leaders, and elected officials recognize that high educational standards and strong academic preparation are essential to success in today's world.

“This strong testament of support from higher education is nothing short of inspiring,” said J. Duke Albanese, senior policy advisor for the Great Schools Partnership, the lead coordinating organization for the New England Secondary School Consortium. “Competency-based graduation decisions represent an important shift for many public schools, and our parents, families, and communities want assurance that their schools are embracing educational approaches accepted by colleges. New England’s collegiate leaders recognize that producing more educated and skilled high school graduates will only benefit their institutions, and that preparing young adults to succeed in higher education and earn a degree is a goal shared by K–12 educators, college professors, and prospective employers alike.”

The Consortium’s Collegiate Endorsement of Proficiency-Based Education and Graduation has now been signed by 55 colleges and universities across New England, including the public-university and community-college systems in five states and three private institutions in Maine. The full text of the endorsement is available on the New England Secondary School Consortium website:

With some parents wondering about the effects that competency-based education will have on their children or the college-admissions process, the Consortium reached out to higher education institutions throughout the region and asked them directly about their support of competency-based learning. The response has been both affirming and encouraging.

“Parents naturally want to know how changes in public education are going to affect their children,” said David Ruff, executive director of the Great Schools Partnership. “One common concern is whether nontraditional academic programs and transcripts may disadvantage students applying to college. Of course, colleges do and always have accepted students with a wide variety of academic backgrounds and records, including home-schooled and international students. While there’s no cause for concern, this endorsement provides further evidence that our nation’s colleges and universities know what matters most—that every student deserves to graduate from high school prepared to succeed no matter what path they choose in life.”

More Information on Competency-Based Learning
The term “competency-based learning” refers to systems of instruction, assessment, grading, and academic reporting that require students to demonstrate they have learned the knowledge and skills they are expected to learn as they progress through their education. The general goal of competency-based learning is to ensure that students are acquiring the knowledge and skills that are deemed to be essential to success in school, higher education, and modern careers. If students fail to meet expected learning standards, they typically receive additional instruction, practice time, and academic support to help them achieve proficiency. In K–12 education, the terms mastery-based, outcome-based, performance-based, proficiency-based, or standards-based education, instruction, or learning are typically synonyms for competency-based learning. That said, competency-based learning can also be designed and implemented in different ways, and consequently some educators may interpret and define the terms differently from place to place. Visit the Glossary of Education Reform ( for a more detailed description of competency-based learning.

About the Great Schools Partnership (
The Great Schools Partnership is a nonprofit school-support organization working to redesign public education and improve learning for all students. Working at all levels of the education system, the Great Schools Partnership provides school coaching, professional development, and technical assistance to educators, schools, districts, organizations, and government agencies. The Great Schools Partnership the lead coordinator of the New England Secondary School Consortium and League of Innovative Schools.

About the New England Secondary School Consortium (
The New England Secondary School Consortium is a regional partnership that promotes forward-thinking innovations in the design and delivery of secondary education across New England. The five partner states—Connecticut, Maine, New Hampshire, Rhode Island, and Vermont—work together to close persistent achievement gaps and promote greater educational equity and opportunity for all students.

Media Contact
Stephen Abbott, Director of Communications: (207) 773.0505 |

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