For an Iraq War veteran, it wasn’t a lack of skills keeping her from getting a job — it was a lack of certification. During the war, she worked as an information systems analyst, and spent seven years on active duty as a network engineer. But since she never received a degree or any credentials for her work, upon leaving the military she couldn’t find a job in her field. The impact was devastating for her and her family.
Going back to school seemed inevitable, but taking the time for traditional schooling often isn’t possible for those who are married with children. It also doesn’t work for those who already have the skills and are looking to progress more quickly through a program.
A promising solution to this problem was found at Sinclair Community College, where competency-based education (CBE) had long been in the cards. For 10 years, there was a growing appetite to implement the teaching style at the Dayton, Ohio institution.
CBE can enable students to learn at a flexible pace, and can give graduating students the knowledge and skills they need for the real world. The benefits are obvious, but changing curriculum over to CBE isn’t something that happens overnight.
Like any great change, Sinclair needed a catalyst to bring life into the project. For the school, that catalyst was a grant from the US Department of Labor. When applying for the grant, Sinclair’s key decision makers needed to sit down and outline its transition plans. This resulted in a staff committed to the project and excited about its potential — a difficult find in many transition stories.
With a capital infusion and a plan, Sinclair began turning some of its Computer Information Systems (CIS) programs into competency-based programs in 2012.