What’s Wrong With Competency-based Education?

  • CBE is the antithesis of a liberal-arts education. It focuses not on academic knowledge but on workforce skills. The natural devolution is to allow politically connected corporations to develop “badges” and “credentials” that will be required and to convert K-12 into merely a training program for their entry-level employees.
  • CBE does nothing to transmit our culture and our civilization. “If education is beaten by training, civilization dies,” C.S. Lewis wrote, for “the lesson of history” is that “civilization is a rarity, attained with difficulty and easily lost.”
  • The German model of CBE shows that students who have such training rather than a liberal-arts education struggle in later employment when their narrow skills become obsolete.i
  • Most parents don’t want “competency” for their children, but rather excellence.
  • Since this training in digital, education will be pared down to what can be digitized and what is considered “useful” in the (current) job market.
  • Genuine education requires human interaction, but CBE marginalizes the teacher as a professional. It’s “depersonalized learning.” No student was ever inspired by a machine.
  • CBE enables students to advance without committing knowledge to long-term memory.ii Click and move on. This will not prepare students for authentic college work.
  • CBE is about mining data on students not educating them. Every keystroke tells the developer/vendor something useful about the student- his capabilities, his behaviors, his attitudes. The data is then fed into non-transparent algorithms to create predictive profiles that can determine students’ future paths in life. The algorithms will be unalterable and permanent.iii
  • There is little chance this sensitive data will be kept secure,iv especially since the federal student privacy law has been gutted to allow widespread sharing of personally identifiable information.v Due to weak protections for student data, the data will be a marketing goldmine for corporations.
  • CBE will enable indoctrination of students with government-approved attitudes and opinions. Video-gaming, which is a much-hyped part of CBE,vi enables collection of massive amounts of behavioral data, which creates a personalized model of how the child makes decisions, enabling targeting influence algorithms.
  • CBE’s online content and badges will be created by national curricula providers and corporations, undermining local control by parents and local school boards.
  • If a significant number of Corporations require CBE badges for employment, homeschool parents may be forced to use the same training materials.
i http://hanushek.stanford.edu/publications/german-style-apprenticeships-simply-cant-be-replicated
ii https://eric.ed.gov/?q=personalization&ff1=souEducational+Leadership&id=EJ1132313
iii https://truthinamericaneducation.com/privacy-issues-state-longitudinal-data-systems/embedded-assessmentsend-around-parental-opt-outs/ 
iv https://oversight.house.gov/hearing/u-s-department-of-education-information-security-review/ 
v https://www.scribd.com/document/217174726/Ferpa-Aacrao-Comments 
vi http://jamespaulgee.com/pdfs/Learning%20Systems%2C%20Not%20Games.pdf

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