Congress should make efforts to move high schools to competency-based credit systems.
One way to increase the ability of STEM students to pursue their interests more deeply and to better customize learning would be to allow students to more easily test out of classes. One way to do this would be for Congress to tie ESEA funding to states’ adoption of competency-based credit systems. In competency-based credit systems, students receive credit for subject matter learned by taking the end-of-course/end-of-school tests, rather than by spending unneeded seat time in these classes. This option incentivizes student progression through content, opens up time in the curriculum for “in-depth” studies, and helps to retain the brightest high school students, many of whom are bored with the slow pace of seat-time-based instruction. In concert with competency-based credit, school-district funding authorities should adopt competency-based funding models where funding to schools is granted, not on a seat time/attendance-based formula, but on successful course credit units completed by students.