H.R. 3136

Advancing Competency-Based Education Demonstration Project Act of 2014

July 23, 2014 (113th Congress, 2nd Session)

Staff Contact
Kimberly Betz

Floor Situation

On Wednesday, July 23, 2014, the House will consider H.R. 3136, the Advancing Competency-Based Education Demonstration Project Act of 2014, under a rule.  H.R. 3136 was introduced on September 19, 2013 by Representatives Matt Salmon (R-AZ), Susan Brooks (R-IN) and Jared Polis (D-CO) and has 8 cosponsors.  H.R. 3136 was marked up and favorably reported by voice vote, as amended, on July 10, 2014.[1]

[1]See http://www.gpo.gov/fdsys/pkg/CRPT-113hrpt529/pdf/CRPT-113hrpt529.pdf, p. 16.

Bill Summary

H.R. 3136 “directs the Secretary of Education to select up to 20 eligible entities to voluntarily carry out competency-based education demonstration projects.”[2] Specifically, the bill defines “eligible entities” as an institution of higher education; a system of institutions of higher education; or a consortium of institutions of higher education.[3] “In selecting entities to receive statutory waivers that will allow the operation of a competency-based program, the Secretary of Education must prioritize projects that show promise in reducing the time required to obtain a degree or in reducing college costs. Additionally, the secretary must consider an eligible entity’s ability to successfully execute the project, and its commitment to work with the secretary to annually evaluate the project and its impact.”[4]  “Finally, the Secretary of Education must ensure the selection of a diverse group of institutions or consortia and cannot limit the courses of study approved for participation.”[5]

Each institution, or consortia, participating in a demonstration project is required to submit disaggregated information to the Institute of Education Sciences (IES). IES, in consultation with the Secretary of Education, is required to evaluate annually each demonstration project and make a determination as to whether each eligible entity has met the goals set out in the respective application. The Director of IES is responsible for issuing a report to Congress on the evaluations of the respective demonstration projects, including any proposed statutory or regulatory changes designed to support and enhance the expansion of competency-based education, the most effective means of delivering competency-based education, and the appropriate level and distribution methodology of federal assistance.[6]

[2]See Id., p. 18.
[3]See Id., p. 4.
[4]See Id., p. 19.
[5]See Id.
[6]See Id., p. 20.


According to the Committee on Education and the Workforce, “[f]ederal, state, and local budgetary challenges, as well as sky rocketing college costs, have encouraged institutions of higher education and students to seek low-cost alternatives to the traditional higher education model. Different modes of teaching delivery, such as competency-based education, may help students learn and graduate more quickly.”[7] However, “ regulators and institutions have traditionally used “credit hours” to measure student progress and disburse student aid. This model made sense when “seat time” was the best proxy for learning. However, today institutions are developing new models of education that can measure students’ actual learning rather than just the time spent in class..”[8]

Moreover, “[f]ederal student aid programs have not kept pace with advances in technology or the latest models of education. While some institutions of higher education are pursuing competency- based education programs, current statutory and regulatory requirements could be updated to enhance innovation, allowing for deeper experimentation with competency based education. Most notably, federal student aid is disbursed based on the traditional ‘credit hour’ calculation, which does not translate to the competency-based education model.”[9]

[7]See Id.
[8]See http://edworkforce.house.gov/news/documentsingle.aspx?DocumentID=386869
[9]See http://www.gpo.gov/fdsys/pkg/CRPT-113hrpt529/pdf/CRPT-113hrpt529.pdf, p. 20


CBO estimates that implementing H.R. 3136 would require $1 million for administrative costs for the department over the 2015-2019 period, assuming the availability of appropriated funds.  Additionally, CBO projects that enacting the bill could affect direct spending for student loans and Pell grants; therefore pay as you go procedures apply. However, CBO estimates that any direct spending effects would be insignificant for each year and over the 2015-2024 period. Enacting the bill would have no effect on revenues.  H.R. 3136 contains no intergovernmental or private sector mandates as defined in the Unfunded Mandates Reform Act and would impose no costs on state, local, or tribal governments.”[10]


[10] http://www.cbo.gov/sites/default/files/cbofiles/attachments/hr3136.pdf


1)         Rep. Kline (R-MN) Amendment #13 – Amendment makes minor technical edits and includes an addition to the oversight section requiring the secretary of education to disseminate best practices.

2)         Rep. Jackson Lee (D-TX) Amendment #3 – Amendment directs the Secretary of Education prior to any deadlines to submit applications for consideration as an institution to participate in the pilot program to conduct outreach to historically Black colleges and universities, Hispanic-serving institutions, Native American-serving, non-tribal institutions, institutions serving students with special needs, and institutions located in rural areas to provide information on the opportunity to apply to carry out a demonstration project.

3)         Rep. Walberg (R-MI) Amendment #12 – Amendment allows participating eligible entities to apply to expand their approved projects beyond the 3000 student maximum if the past two evaluations warrant such expansion.

4)         Rep. McNerney (D-CA) Amendment #10 – Amendment requires an applicant to provide information on its population of veteran and military students and how it will incorporate veteran and military student needs into its demonstration project.

5)         Rep. Byrne (R-AL) Amendment #11 – Amendment increases the maximum number of eligible entities from 20 to 30.

6)         Rep. Langevin (D-RI) Amendment #1 – Amendment allows eligible entities to submit to the Director of the Institute of Education information regarding the number and percentage of students who are able to find employment in a field relating to their program or course of study, and would allow the Director of IES to provide technical assistance to such entities upon request.

7)         Rep. Duffy (R-WI) Amendment #19 – Amendment requires schools to notify students or parents of minor students when they enter in to an agreement with a person or company that is allowed to sell personally identifiable information collected from the application provided to the student.

8)         Reps. Gowdy (R-SC) and Welch (D-VT) Amendment #15 – Amendment permits participation of dual enrollment programs in demonstration projects.

9)         Rep. Meng (D-NY) Amendment #17 – Amendment requires the Secretary of Education to report to Congress, every 10 years, on the needs of limited English proficient students using the Free Application for Federal Student Aid.

10)      Reps. Gowdy (R-SC) and Welch (D-VT) Amendment #16 – Amendment creates a Regulatory Reform Task Force to make recommendations to reduce unnecessary higher education regulations.

11)      Rep. Grayson (D-FL) Amendment #8 – Amendment requires the Secretary of Education, in consultation with the Commissioner of Internal Revenue, to conduct a study on the feasibility and advantages and disadvantages of using individual income tax returns as the primary form of application for student aid.

Additional Information

For questions or further information contact the GOP Conference at 5-5107.