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© CAEL, 2015 CBE Case Study Texas Aﬀordable Baccalaureate Program Texas Aﬀordable Baccalaureate Program A Collaboration between the Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board, South Texas College, and Texas A&M University-Commerce This case study is part of a series on newer competency-based degree programs that have been emerging in recent years. The case studies are prepared by the Council for Adult and Experiential Learning (CAEL) with funding from Lumina Foundation. THETEXASAFFORDABLE BACCALAUREATEPROGRAM ANOVERVIEW In January 2014, the Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board (THECB), South Texas College (STC), and Texas A&M University-Commerce (A&M Commerce) launched the Texas Aﬀordable Baccalaureate Program, the state’s ﬁrst compe- tency-based bachelor-level degree. The applied baccalaureate degree in organizational leadership is oﬀered as a low-cost alternative to a traditional postsecondary degree, with a goal to serve stu- dents from lower socio-economic backgrounds. The degree is also designed to provide stu- dents with the competencies that employers have identiﬁed as necessary for the 21st century, and it gives students the opportunity to acceler- ate time to completion—and reduce their costs— as they earn a postsecondary degree. The program, as originally designed, features a blended model that combines competency- based courses and courses with a more tradi- tional format. In this blended model, students earn the ﬁrst 90 credit hours required for the degree through self-paced online competency- based modules (42 semester credit hours in gen- eral core curriculum, 48 semester credit hours in lower division electives), with the last 30 credit hours (upper division, applied) oﬀered in either a hybrid or online format. Recently, based on stu- dent feedback and interest, the program piloted an alternative model in which the upper divi- sion courses are also available in the self-paced online competency-based format. Texas Aﬀordable Baccalaureate Program Snapshot • Year-round enrollment • Applied baccalaureate degree uses a com- petency-based model and ﬂat-rate tuition to shorten the path to college completion • Core coursework and electives delivered online in self-paced modules • Upper level coursework and problem-based learning sessions delivered in a more tradi- tional course format, either face-to-face or online; new pilot model oﬀers upper level component in same self-paced format as lower level • Course competencies deﬁned by faculty and industry leaders BACKGROUND In 2011, Texas Governor Rick Perry challenged all Texas institutions of higher education to develop a $10,000 bachelor’s degree, inclusive of all materials. THECB decided to meet that chal- lenge and began working to build a new program with A&M Commerce and STC. A&M Commerce, which serves a large military student population, had been an early adopter of online education and expressed early interest in developing a com- petency-based program as a way to provide beer access and improve the success of its students. STC is a Level II institution oﬀering associate and bachelor’s degrees as well as certiﬁcate programs; 2 © CAEL, 2015 City University of Seale: Performance-Based Degree Model it serves a large Latino student population, an important target of degree completion eﬀorts in the state. The $10,000 degree challenge pro- vided an opportunity to create a diﬀerent strat- egy for helping more high-need students access a bachelor’s degree program. In 2012, THECB staﬀ led by Dr. Van L. Davis, director of innovations in higher education, began working on the Texas Aﬀordable Baccalaureate (TAB) degree along with the leadership of STC and A&M Commerce. The ﬁrst task as a team was to identify the kind of degree to design and oﬀer, taking into consideration both student demand and local employers’ needs. To understand what employers wanted in their potential employees and the types of jobs that would beneﬁt the regions, the TAB leadership team examined labor markets and anticipated job growth in the STC and A&M Commerce regions using data from the Texas Workforce Commission and Bureau of Labor Statistics. The data showed that some of the highest growth ﬁelds in Texas included managerial/supervisory positions, particularly in the services industry and growing manufacturing base, and that many of these positions required a bachelor’s degree. An intensive occupational analysis of the regions around STC and A&M Commerce, including input from local employ- ers and industry leaders, conﬁrmed that local employers needed mid-level managers with a bachelor’s degree. At the same time, the TAB leadership team examined their own students who had earned an associate degree for jobs in technical careers but were returning to the institutions to pursue bachelor’s degrees. Lacking a bachelor’s degree was their main obstacle to career advancement. The TAB team wanted the degree program to beneﬁt this population of students, which may not be well served by a traditional business administration bachelor’s degree as such pro- grams oen do not award full credit for techni- cal associate degrees or leadership experience outside of a business environment. According to Dr. Van Davis, “We took seriously what our institutions were telling us. It takes skills to serve as a supervisor or manager. There was no need for a traditional business degree, rather an organizational leadership degree as the next step from the technical associate degree.” The team, therefore, focused on designing an applied baccalaureate degree in organizational leadership. THECB, STC, and A&M Commerce col- laborated with The College for All Texans Foundation (CFAT), a non-proﬁt 501(c)(3) sup- port organization for THECB, which raises awareness and ﬁnancial support for the state’s higher education plan “Closing the Gaps by 2015.” CFAT served as an umbrella adminis- trative organization over the group and, in the spring of 2012, submied an application for a $1 million grant to support the TAB proj- ect through EDUCAUSE’s Next Generation Learning Challenges (NGLC), an initiative funded in part by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation to support technology-based educational innovations to improve college readiness and completion. In July 2012, NGLC awarded the $1 million grant to the TAB leader- ship team to design, pilot, and scale the com- petency-based degree program. WHATISCOMPETENCY-BASEDEDUCATION? In recent years, a number of postsecondary institutions have developed new competency- based degree programs. These programs are promising for the future of higher education because they establish clear expectations for what graduates must know and be able to do, and many models are self-paced. The emphasis on learning acquired rather than seat time is particu- larly important for adult and nontraditional learners who bring learning from their work and life experiences to higher education. Competency-based models allow students to build on what they already know to obtain a post-secondary credential at their own pace. 3 © CAEL, 2015 City University of Seale: Performance-Based Degree Model DESIGNINGTHEPROGRAMAND ITSCOMPETENCIES From the beginning, THECB knew that the success of the TAB program depended on a strong cross-institutional collaboration and strong faculty support at both colleges. The TAB leadership team, therefore, involved faculty ear- ly in the design process. Faculty members were nominated by administrators from each cam- pus, based on their knowledge and expertise in identiﬁed subject areas. THECB facilitated the engagement of faculty from both institutions through a series of monthly meetings, designed to encourage faculty to collaborate on decision making, share perspectives and insights, work together to build TAB’s curriculum, develop pro- gram and course learning outcomes, improve overall sustainability of the program, and build a shared commitment from both institutions. In addition to the governor’s $10,000 degree challenge, several other initiatives were under- way in Texas that helped the team shape the program. One major inﬂuence was the THECB and CFAT’s participation in the Texas Tuning Project from 2009 to 2013 (sidebar). This project, which was a faculty-led pilot funded by Lumina Foundation, was designed to deﬁne what stu- dents must know, understand, and be able to demonstrate aer completing a degree in a spe- ciﬁc ﬁeld (Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board [THECB], 2014e). The project helped the TAB leadership team understand the process of building a degree from the ground up, paying particularly close aention to learning outcomes. Also, in 2009, THECB had worked on revising the statewide general education core curricu- lum using the Association of American Colleges and Universities (AAC&U) Liberal Education and America’s Promise (LEAP) Essential Learning Outcomes as a basis for the revisions. In 2011, the THECB (2014b & 2014d) approved the revisions to the Texas Core Curriculum (TCC) for all Texas public institutions of higher education, and each institution’s core curriculum now includes a statement of purpose, six core objectives, and nine common component areas. Concurrently, THECB (2014a) was convening small faculty groups in speciﬁc disciplines to revise and set new learning outcomes in lower division courses through its Learning Outcomes Project. Thus, by the time the TAB project was assembling faculty groups to develop its lower division competencies, participants were able to draw on the lessons and experiences of the Texas Tuning Project, the statewide general education core curriculum revision using LEAP Essential Learning Outcomes, and the lower divi- sion outcomes revision. When starting the process of identifying the competencies for the TAB degree, the team asked, “What type of jobs do we expect our students to get?” Competencies were then reverse engi- neered from the answers to that question. Faculty explored the industries in which their students might be employed, the types of jobs for which graduates could be qualiﬁed, and the skills and competencies required for those positions. As a result, the overarching competencies took shape. Texas Tuning Project In April 2009, Lumina Foundation launched an initiative called “Tuning USA.” The aim was to create a shared understanding among higher education’s stakeholders of the subject-speciﬁc knowledge and transferable skills that students in six ﬁelds (biology, chemistry, education, his- tory, physics, and graphic design) must demon- strate in each course and upon completion of a degree program. Tuning is the faculty-led process of harmoniz- ing higher education programs and degrees. The ﬁne-tuning (or course alignment) process involved identifying a set of lower division courses for a given discipline area, up to the level of a certiﬁcate or an associate degree, and aligning their learning outcomes across institutions and sectors in order to provide a basis for voluntary transfer compacts and artic- ulation agreements. From 2009 through 2013, with a four-year grant from Lumina Foundation, 12 academic disciplines were “tuned” in Texas (THECB, 2014e). 4 © CAEL, 2015 City University of Seale: Performance-Based Degree Model LEAPESSENTIALLEARNINGOUTCOMES Knowledge of human cultures and the physical and natural world • Through study in the sciences and math- ematics, social sciences, humanities, histories, languages, and the arts Intellectual and practical skills, including • Inquiry and analysis • Critical and creative thinking • Wrien and oral communication • Quantitative literacy • Information literacy • Teamwork and problem solving • Personal and social responsibility • Civic knowledge and engagement—local and global • Intercultural knowledge and competence • Ethical reasoning and action • Foundations and skills for lifelong learning Integrative and applied learning, including • Synthesis and advanced accomplishment across general and specialized studies (The Association of America’s Colleges and Universities [AAC&U], 2014) Aer identifying the competencies, the team continued to work backward, starting with more questions: “When a student ﬁnishes a course, what should they know, what should they be able to do? If they need to know these skills, how do we assess those items, and what should those assessments look like?” In this way, a matrix evolved containing all the learning outcomes associated with the competencies and wrien using Bloom’s taxonomy action verbs (Bloom, 1956). The TAB team then developed corre- sponding assessment processes, assessment instruments, and course materials. Developing more speciﬁc measureable competency deﬁni- tions was an intense process of relating the LEAP Essential Learning Outcomes back to the degree, which required several exercises involving both upper and lower division faculty members. The Essential Learning Outcomes were integrated into all three components of the degree: general education core curriculum, lower division elec- tives, and the upper division applied coursework. What resulted from this process was a com- petency framework for the TAB degree that includes two levels of competencies: for the lower level, there are 72 general education core competencies, and 19 lower division competen- cies, making a total of 91 competencies that students must demonstrate; the upper level framework consists of 8 large overall compe- tency categories. 91 Lower Division Competencies The lower division competency modules were developed by faculty teams in each discipline. The 72 general education core competency areas include global understanding, problem solving, eﬀective communication, analysis, ethics, and lit- eracy. The 19 lower division elective competency areas include Spanish as the required foreign lan- guage and related business and technical ﬁelds. Students are required to demonstrate mastery (80% of the content) of all 91 competencies, or transfer in credit that is equivalent, for this 75% of the degree. 8 Upper Division Competency Categories The eight overarching competency categories that deﬁne the framework for the upper division courses are: • interpersonal skills; • organizational behavior; • problem solving/decision making; • change management; • resource management; • strategy/operations management; • information literacy; and • statistics/applied research. These eight competency categories each include a deﬁnition, or summary statement, and detailed associated individual competencies that students must demonstrate. For example, 5 © CAEL, 2015 City University of Seale: Performance-Based Degree Model 8 OVERARCHING UPPER DIVISION COMPETENCY CATEGORIES INTERPERSONAL SKILLS 91 LOWER DIVISION COMPETENCIES GLOBAL UNDERSTANDING PROBLEM SOLVING EFFECTIVE COMMUNICATION ANALYSIS ETHICS LITERACY For each competency students must demonstrate: All 19 areas include: REQUIRED FOREIGN LANGUAGE (SPANISH) RELATED BUSINESS FIELDS RELATED TECHNICAL FIELDS Each one includes a definition, or summary statement, and detailed associated individual competencies that students must demonstrate. ORGANIZATIONAL BEHAVIOR PROBLEM SOLVING/ DECISION MAKING CHANGE MANAGEMENT RESOURCE MANAGEMENT STRATEGY/OPERATIONS MANAGEMENT INFORMATION LITERACY STATISTICS/APPLIED RESEARCH 72 GENERAL EDUCATION CORE COMPETENCY AREAS 19 LOWER DIVISION ELECTIVE COMPETENCY AREAS 6 © CAEL, 2015 City University of Seale: Performance-Based Degree Model the deﬁnition of the Change Management cat- egory is: Understand how the political, economic, social, and technological forces in the envi- ronment inﬂuence organizational behavior, policy, and practices. The Change Management category’s associ- ated competencies include the abilities to: • analyze why & how organizations resist change; • explain a leader’s role in managing change; and • apply a structured change management process. The eight competency categories are embed- ded into the upper division coursework, and students must demonstrate all of the associated competencies to earn the applied baccalaureate degree in organizational leadership: a bachelor of applied arts and sciences (BAAS) at A&M Commerce or a bachelor of applied science (BAS) at STC (THECB, 2014c). Mapping the Competencies to the Credit Hour Although the applied baccalaureate degree program is designed around the competencies, the leadership team also needed to be sure that competencies mapped back to the credit hour. This was done by mapping the competen- cies back to courses oﬀered in each institution’s traditionally formaed degrees. As students complete the TAB program’s competency-based learning modules, internal systems translate the competencies into courses that will appear on the student’s transcript. In addition, the team developed a formula for each registrar to cal- culate traditional grades for the transcript. The competencies themselves are currently not list- ed on the student’s transcript. The competency modules are mapped back to the credit hour for a number of reasons. First, the TAB leadership team wanted students to have transcript portability. If a student starts the orga- nizational leadership program and decides it isn’t a good ﬁt, they will have a transcript with actual courses completed and grades that any institu- tion will understand. This is also beneﬁcial for students pursuing graduate degrees aer earning the TAB degree. A second reason is that work- ing with credit hours as opposed to competency modules was easier for navigating the ﬁnancial aid process and allowed both institutions to make only slight changes to their satisfactory academic progress (SAP) requirements. A third reason is institutional funding. Texas is primar- ily a formula-funded state where institutions are awarded most of their funding based on full-time equivalent enrollments at the beginning of each semester (on the 12th day of class). DEGREEPROGRAMSTRUCTURE The competencies required for the BAS/BAAS degree map back to a total of 120 credits, which are distributed as shown in Table 1. Students enroll at either A&M Commerce or STC. At both institutions, students can complete the general education core curriculum and lower division elective requirements through self- paced online courses, each of which contains one to seven competency modules. Students have multiple options for completing the upper division portion of the degree. A&M Commerce oﬀers this part of the degree through an entirely online experience. STC oﬀers students a hybrid, face-to-face course format. In addition, since many students come to the program with an associate degree or prior learn- ing from the workplace or military, there are also options for students to satisfy many of the degree requirements through transfer credit or prior learning assessment (PLA). Students may demonstrate competencies they have acquired in previous employment, life experience, and prior coursework through any method of PLA available, including CLEP exams and portfo- lio assessment. Both institutions also have a long history of using the American Council on Education’s (ACE) credit recommendations for military training and occupations and for corpo- rate training. The TAB degree program accepts 7 © CAEL, 2015 City University of Seale: Performance-Based Degree Model transfer credits from technical associate degrees that typically would not be accepted by aca- demic degree programs. A maximum of 75% of the degree requirements can be met through a combination of transfer and PLA credits. TAB academic coaches and program staﬀ are trained to counsel students in identifying likely areas for prior learning assessment. CURRICULUM The TAB leadership team researched employ- er needs, both locally and on a national/interna- tional scale, and found that employers are look- ing for skills in communication, problem solving, working in multicultural communities, critical thinking, conﬂict resolution and mediation, team- based work, and global interactions. While the TAB faculty used this information to identify the degree’s competencies and learning objectives, it needed help with the instructional design of the online competency modules and the appro- priate online direct assessments for the lower level courses. Based on Pearson Education’s work with Northern Arizona University’s (NAU) Personalized Learning program (another NGLC grant recipi- ent), the TAB leadership team decided to use Pearson’s services for its lower division develop- ment. With the faculty-designed competency maps guiding its work, Pearson created online course designs, which were then reviewed by faculty to ensure academic integrity and outcome alignment. These designs included both course content and assessments for each of the self- paced competency-based modules. The online format in these modules was speciﬁcally designed to allow students to advance to the next module as soon as they proved mastery of a concept. On average, three to four individual competency LOWER DIVISION ELECTIVES UPPER DIVISION APPLIED Additional career-focused competencies, including foreign language Self-paced online competency modules Traditional hybrid; traditional online New pilot: self-paced competency modules Interpersonal skills, organizational behavior, problem solving/decision making, change management, resource management, strategy/operations management, information literacy, statistics/applied research Global understanding, problem solving, effective communication, analysis, ethics, and literacy Self-paced online competency modules 42 48 30 GENERAL EDUCATION CORE CURRICULUM FORMAT CREDIT HOUR EQUIVALENCY COMPETENCY AREAS Table 1. Distribution of Credits and Competencies in the BAS and BAAS 8 © CAEL, 2015 City University of Seale: Performance-Based Degree Model modules are included in each self-paced course oﬀered through the program. The upper division problem-based curriculum was fully developed by faculty and is driven by the eight competency categories. To fully real- ize and apply their skills and competencies, stu- dents must complete a capstone project, work- ing in teams on real-world problems provided by local businesses. The upper level curriculum is designed to be delivered in six seven-week terms as follows: • Term 1: Issues in Organizational Leadership • Terms 2 & 3: Data Driven Decision Making • Terms 2 & 3: Behavior, Ethics, and Leadership • Terms 4 & 5: Leadership & Leadership Theory • Term 4: Leading Organizational Change/Group and Work Dynamics • Terms 5 & 6: Capstone Project As previously noted, the two institutions dif- fer in their delivery methods of the upper divi- sion applied curriculum. STC currently oﬀers a hybrid of online and face-to-face curriculum delivery. In STC’s hybrid model, students com- plete some work online, and then they meet with other students once per week to practice the content together. At A&M Commerce, because the BAAS in organizational leadership is oﬀered exclusively online, this upper division work is completed in a virtual environment, and all group projects and meetings with peers are conducted through Skype, e-mail, and other methods of online communication. In fall 2014, in response to student demand, A&M Commerce began piloting an online competency-based option for the upper divi- sion curriculum. Students at A&M Commerce requested this change because they found that the competency-based modules were more ﬂexible, and their feedback indicated that making the transition from an entirely competency-based lower division to an accel- erated traditional upper division curriculum was not seamless. ASSESSMENTAPPROACH All competency modules include embedded course assessments. Assessments for both the general education core curriculum and the lower division electives follow the same process. Each module has a pre-assessment that students take as a diagnostic at the beginning of the module, and then a post-assessment at the end of the module. If a student scores high enough on the pre-assess- ment, that student may be allowed to go straight to the post-assessment. This is similar to other institutions’ competency-based degree programs, such as the one oﬀered by NAU; but where NAU allows students to skip post-assessments based on their pre-assessment performance, this is not an option for students in the Texas program. The post-assessments are longer and more diﬃcult and are designed for students to prove a deeper level of understanding of the competencies. Students have three chances to pass the post-assessment, and they must score an 80% or higher in order to move on to the next module. The assessments vary in terms of format, depending on the particular competency being tested; the assessment formats include multiple choice tests, short essays, videos and presen- tations, and actual work products. Faculty in each concentration area were instrumental in the design of the assessments and determined which type of assessment should be used. Student mastery of the upper division compe- tencies is evaluated through a capstone e-port- folio. Students use the e-portfolio to showcase how they applied their knowledge and skills to a real-world application. In addition to having an assessment function, the program designed the e-portfolio to be something that the students can use outside of the institution, providing graduates with a way to demonstrate job skills to potential employers and begin to document their professional achievements. The program designers are considering future use of the Collegiate Assessment of Academic Proﬁciency (CAAP) or similar com- prehensive assessment instruments in addi- tion to the assessment tools already set in place. The CAAP assessment is a standardized, 9 © CAEL, 2015 City University of Seale: Performance-Based Degree Model nationally normed assessment program from American College Testing (ACT) of collegiate- level learning. Students would take the CAAP or similar assessment upon entering the TAB program and then again aer their capstone course. The program designers expect that student results from this assessment will enable A&M Commerce and STC to bench- mark their students against those at other institutions nationally. FACULTYANDSTUDENT SUPPORTSTAFF Program designers intended the applied bac- calaureate degree in organizational leadership to be a faculty-centered model. From the beginning full-time faculty worked with business leader input to develop competencies, courses, assessments, and curriculum materials. According to THECB’s Van Davis, “Faculty involved in developing cur- riculum have the best understanding of what is competency-based vs. traditional coursework and are, therefore, able to help students develop a strategy to move through the process.” Faculty members also serve as content instruc- tors, providing real-time feedback and support whenever needed as well as administering pre- and post-assessments, facilitating the student’s learning by answering questions, providing one-on-one tutoring, and monitoring progress. These full-time instructional staﬀ members are assigned to speciﬁc content domains or courses. Additionally, for the upper division part of the degree, full-time faculty work in more of a tra- ditional faculty role, delivering both face-to-face and online courses. Full-time program staﬀ serve as academic coaches, who work with individual students throughout the student’s career to provide feed- back and support. These coaches work with the same students from enrollment through gradua- tion, checking in with the student at least once per week. The program uses learning and predictive analytics, developed by Civitas Learning, to help students stay in school and graduate on time. The academic coaches are able to see at-a-glance how their students are doing, allowing them to give more aention to students who fall into the at-risk categories and require additional help. According to Davis, “This hands-on support, including advis- ing, mentoring, and active problem solving, is key to early student retention and success.” COSTANDPRICING/SUSTAINABILITY The ﬁrst year start-up costs to develop the TAB program were covered by the two-year $1 million grant from EDUCAUSE NGLC. This included travel, program development, faculty developed assessments, competencies, and objectives. A portion of the curriculum and competency map- ping completed by Pearson was also supported by the grant along with the development of a suite of marketing resources, including small ini- tial social media buys, and of gap ware to auto- mate the student enrollment process. However, both participating institutions also contributed considerable time and both human and ﬁnancial resources. The estimated outlays and in-kind staﬀ time was $250,000 from A&M Commerce and $160,000 from STC. In addition, both institutions commied to taking on the cost of the predictive analytics from Civitas Learning. Costs for student access to the online modules, learning materials, and assessments are being amortized over a ﬁve-year contract between Pearson and the two institutions and is also not covered by the grant (Pearson will receive $250 for each enrolled stu- dent through 2018). As the institutions develop new CBE degree oﬀerings, these oﬀerings can use the same core curriculum and elective cours- es, thus reducing development costs. The price of the program for the student is $750 for each seven-week period of enrollment, inclusive of electronic resources, for the lower division curriculum. Students can complete as many competency modules or courses in each seven-week term as they are able. Six seven- week terms are oﬀered each 12 month academic cycle. Because students can complete core and lower division competencies online and through self-paced modules, those with work-based and other experiential learning can advance quickly. The program estimates that a student with lile or no college experience can expect to earn 120 Table 2. Estimated Cost Savings for the TAB Student Table 1. Estimated Costs for TAB Student Scenarios Source: Presentation to the Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board, April 24, 2014, hp://www.thecb.state.tx.us Source: hp://www.thecb.state.tx.us/TXAﬀordableBaccalaureateDegree 10 © CAEL, 2015 City University of Seale: Performance-Based Degree Model degree credits in approximately 3 years, with a total cost of $13,500 to $15,750. Students enter- ing the program with an earned associate degree could complete the BAS/BAAS degree in 1.5 to 2 years, with a cost of approximately $6,725 to $9,000. Students with credit from prior college learning and work experience, needing only the upper division coursework, can earn 30 degree credits in one year (six terms), for a total cost of approximately $4,500 to $6,000 (Table 1). These ﬁgures are presented as ranges to allow for oth- er costs, such as CLEP fees (if any), graduation fees, and the cost of learning materials, which are not built into the upper division modules. Of course, because the program allows students to progress at their own pace, highly experienced and motivated students can complete in an even shorter time and at a lower cost. For example, one student has successfully completed six courses in a seven-week period at a cost of $750. THECB estimates that the program’s cost per credit is about half that of a traditional degree, saving the student $113.73 per credit. With this model, the student potentially saves between $13,088 to $23,088 in tuition and at least two semesters of time by earning the TAB degree in three years (Table 2).The pricing model assumes that course delivery savings are realized by the institution by developing and adopting existing outcomes-based curriculum materials (from both institutions and Pearson) as well as by using alternative academic staﬀ- ing structures and online delivery to minimize overhead expenses. The TAB leadership team hopes that as student enrollments increase, tuition costs could be further reduced due to economies of scale. It is estimated that the program will be self- supporting and sustainable by the ﬁh year of operation. General Core Curriculum YEAR 1 Lower Division Electives YEAR 2 Upper Division Applied YEAR 3 Estimated Cost to Student (assume six seven-week terms per year) High School Graduate with No College 42 Semester Credit Hours 48 Semester Credit Hours 30 Semester Credit Hours $13,500 to $15,750 Student with 42 Credits of Core Curriculum, 18 Credits of Lower Division Electives 30 Semester Credit Hours 30 Semester Credit Hours $6,725 to $9,000 Student with 40 Credits of Core Curriculum, 48 Credits of Lower Division Electives 30 Semester Credit Hours $4,500 to $6,000 Average Texas Public University Tuition and Fees, Fall 2010 Texas Aﬀordable Baccalaureate Program Cost Savings to the Student Cost per credit hour $225.73 $112 $113.73 Cost per year $7,022 $4,500 $2,522 Cost for 120 hour degree $27,088 $5,000 to $14,000 $13,088 to $23,088 11 © CAEL, 2015 City University of Seale: Performance-Based Degree Model ACCREDITATIONANDFINANCIALAID Obtaining necessary accreditation by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges (SACSCOC) for the TAB degree was a lengthy process. SACSCOC originally approved the program in January 2013 but later approached the team requesting a substantive change proposal from both institu- tions. According to SACSCOC, a substantive change proposal is required if there is: “any change in the established mission or objectives of the institution; a change in legal status, form of control, or ownership of the institution; or the addition of courses or programs that rep- resent a signiﬁcant departure, either in content or method of delivery, from those that were oﬀered when the institution was last evaluated.” Aer several conversations with SACSCOC, including the submission of the substantive change proposal, SACSCOC accepted notiﬁca- tion of the program and added the program to the scope of accreditation at each institution in December 2013. Because of the way in which the program maps the competencies back to the credit hour, and because two seven-week terms in the TAB program are equivalent to one standard term, students pursuing the applied baccalaureate degree in organizational leadership can receive federal ﬁnancial aid. The biggest challenge in meeting ﬁnancial aid regulatory requirements was the self-paced feature of the program. In order to satisfy satisfactory academic progress (SAP) requirements, TAB students must com- plete the equivalent of four courses across two seven-week terms (comparable to students in traditional programs completing 12 semester credit hours each traditional semester). Typically, academic coaches enroll students in two courses per term, and if students complete those, they will be enrolled in additional courses. If a stu- dent doesn’t complete two courses during the ﬁrst term, the courses will carry over to the next term, and the student will have the second term to complete those and any additional courses they need to remain at full-time status to stay eli- gible for ﬁnancial aid. Since multiple competency modules equate to a course, and each module has a post-assessment, the academic coaches are able to track a student’s progress as each module is completed. A&M Commerce is cur- rently looking into new ﬁnancial aid soware systems to support this process as the program increases enrollments. ISSUESANDCHALLENGES A signiﬁcant challenge in developing the TAB program was the faculty’s initial lack of knowl- edge about competency-based education and even some initial resistance to this new concept. The team devoted time and energy at the front end, engaging and educating faculty from both institutions. The team asked faculty to shi their focus from teaching to student learning, and to ask themselves, “What do students need to know, and what do they need to do?” According to Dr. Ali Esmaeili, dean for bachelor programs and uni- versity relations at STC, aer two to three months of meeting, the faculty began to talk with greater ease about competencies. Dr. Mary Hendrix, A&M Commerce’s vice president for student access and success, notes that while this expansion of faculty awareness and understanding was the big- gest challenge, the solution also yielded the larg- est reward in that the faculty became completely invested in the program and developed a curricu- lum they felt they could call their own. An additional, unanticipated challenge was the many ways in which the new program aﬀected various parts of the institutions. Changes were needed in terms of policies, ﬁnancial aid process- es, student information systems, and registration. Perhaps the biggest challenge the team encoun- tered, and which is still not completely resolved, is that of the back-end operational system and IT integration issues. During the ﬁrst several terms, neither institution’s learning management sys- tem had the capability to enroll students in the competency modules or link the program com- petencies to the course-based format tracked in the student information systems. During the start-up phase, when initial enrollments were low, manual enrollment and tracking was manageable. However, for the program to scale up, a more 12 © CAEL, 2015 City University of Seale: Performance-Based Degree Model permanent solution is needed to automate this process. Project partners are currently working on a local solution to bridge the gap between the student information management systems and learning management systems. If there is a mes- sage to deliver to potential competency-based degree program designers from the TAB leader- ship team, it is to think about such technology challenges sooner rather than later. STUDENTOUTREACHENROLLMENT ANDOUTCOMES The TAB leadership team has developed a marketing toolkit that both institutions can use and adapt to reach potential student groups. The toolkit includes a 30-second TV ad that can be used on websites, a radio PSA, social media ads, and print materials. Both institutions plan to work with employers, speciﬁcally those that have tuition assistance programs in place, to market the program to their employees. In addi- tion, to reach the target market of students who have stopped-out with a certain number of cred- its but no degree, the team has an arrangement with the Texas Department of Public Safety to access current addresses for a statewide mailer. During the program’s initial so launch phase, enrollments were the result of students learn- ing about the program through word of mouth. Through word of mouth alone, the schools saw a combined student enrollment of 10 in term 1, 28 in term 2, and 50 in term 3. By term 5 the combined student enrollment has grown to 151. Eventually, enrollments for both institutions are projected to total 6,000 by 2018. As the program ramps up and adds enroll- ments, the partners have established metrics for evaluation of various outcome measures, includ- ing student completions and reduced time to degree. The grant partners have created a pro- gram advisory commiee that will be responsible for looking at the evaluation results from each institution, making recommendations for changes based on real data. NEXTSTEPS With the continued rollout of the ﬁrst TAB degree program, A&M Commerce and STC are planning to launch other competency-based degrees at their institutions within the next few years. The lower division competencies for the applied baccalaureate degree in organizational leadership were originally developed so they could be used by a number of diﬀerent degrees, so that the cost to develop new degree oﬀer- ings will be signiﬁcantly lower than the cost to develop the ﬁrst one. Additionally, THECB, A&M Commerce, and STC developed the degree program to be replicated at other institutions. Therefore, the partners will share all compe- tency maps, learning outcomes, and objectives, including the program model itself, with any and all institutions. THECB, A&M Commerce, and STC hope to see more competency-based pro- grams throughout the state in the coming years. While employers have been a strong pres- ence during the development of the program, the team plans to continue this relationship by including them in a program advisory commiee. The advisory commiee will keep the curriculum current, review assessment results, and ensure that the program design continues to align with employer needs. Now that A&M Commerce has decided to oﬀer the upper division applied coursework as competency modules, the TAB leadership team and faculty groups will work together to adapt the curriculum, competency assessments, and artifacts to be used in students’ e-portfolios for this new version. And ﬁnally, as the NGLC grant cycle comes to a close, the role of THECB will phase out, requir- ing the two institutions to take on the respon- sibilities of program organization, infrastruc- ture, and administration. Blackboard Learning Solutions has been working with the TAB team, making recommendations on these strategic planning eﬀorts. 13 © CAEL, 2015 City University of Seale: Performance-Based Degree Model Acknowledgments The authors of this case study were CAEL’s Rebecca Klein-Collins and Kathleen Glancey. The case study beneﬁed from several interviews and correspondence with Dr. Van Davis at the Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board, Dr. Ali Esmaeili and Rosemond Moore from South Texas College, and Dr. Mary Hendrix and Dr. Donna Smith from Texas A&M University-Commerce. References Association of American Colleges and Universities. (2014.). Liberal education and America’s promise (LEAP): Essential learning outcomes. Retrieved from hp://www.aacu.org/leap/vision.cfm. Bloom, B. S., & Krathwohl, D. R. (1956). Taxonomy of educational objectives: The classiﬁcation of edu- cational goals. Handbook I: Cognitive Domain. New York, NY: Longmans, Green. Retrieved from hp:// www.clemson.edu/assessment/assessmentpractices/referencematerials/documents/Blooms%20 Taxonomy%20Action%20Verbs.pdf. The Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board (THECB). (2012). 2012 Texas public higher education almanac. Austin, TX: Author. THECB. (2014a). ACGM learning outcomes project. Retrieved from hp://www.thecb.state.tx.us/index. cfm?objectid=DE96F52A-D583-AE1B-C7265EA2CD5E90B3 THECB. (2014b). Elements of the Texas state core curriculum. Retrieved from hp://www.thecb.state. tx.us/index.cfm?objectid=427FDE26-AF5D-F1A1-E6FDB62091E2A507 THECB. (2014c). Final BAS organizational leadership competencies 6-14. Austin, TX: Author. THECB. (2014d). Texas core curriculum. Retrieved from hp://www.thecb.state.tx.us/index. cfm?objectid=417252EA-B240-62F7-9F6A1A125C83BE08 THECB (2014e). Tuning Texas through Lumina Foundation. Retrieved from hp://www.thecb.state. tx.us/index.cfm?objectid=B4B957B5-BD9D-A63B-1C8FFEF251B26E00 Articles on the Texas Aﬀordable Baccalaureate Degree Program Biemiller, L. (2014, February 5). Texas rolls out an ‘aﬀordable baccalaureate’ degree. Chronicle of Higher Education. Retrieved from hp://chronicle.com/blogs/wiredcampus/ texas-rolls-out-an-aﬀordable-baccalaureate-degree/50119 Hamilton, R. (2014, February 5). A&M-Commerce, South Texas College announce $10K degrees. The Texas Tribune. Retrieved from hp://ketr.org/post/ am-commerce-south-texas-college-announce-10k-degrees Hamilton, R. (2014, February 4). New degree available for around $10K, books includ- ed. The Texas Tribune. Retrieved from hp://www.texastribune.org/2014/02/05/ new-degree-available-around-10k-books-included/ Lewis, J. (2014). Next gen tools: Strategies and innovations for implementing breakthrough Models: Faculty engagement. Retrieved from hp://net.educause.edu/ir/library/pdf/NGB1404.pdf Mekelburg, M. (2014, February 6). Texas aﬀordable baccalaure- ate degree program oﬀers low-cost alternative to college degree. The Daily Texan. Retrieved from hp://www.dailytexanonline.com/2014/02/06/ texas-aﬀordable-baccalaureate-degree-program-oﬀers-low-cost-alternative-to-college Polden, K. (2014, February 6). Higher education partners launch Texas aﬀordable baccalaureate degree. Retrieved from hp://www.thecb.state.tx.us/TXAﬀordableBaccalaureateDegree The views expressed in this publication are those of the authors and do not necessarily represent those of Lumina Foundation, its oﬃcers, or employees. We advocate and innovate on behalf of adult learners to increase access to education and economic security. We provide adults with career guidance and help them earn college credit for what they already know. We equip colleges and universities to aract, retain, and graduate more adult students. We provide employers with smart strategies for employee development. We build workforce organizations’ capacity to connect worker skills to employer demands. ©2015 CAEL www.cael.org NGLC grant cycle comes to a close, the role of THECB will phase out, re