Education innovator launches high-profile competency-based testing program to accelerate careers

New start-up will enable students and workers to earn college credit and certifications in 21st century business and technology disciplines

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COLLEGE PARK, MARYLAND – Directly addressing the cost and completion pressures of higher education, today announced plans to enable students and employees to accelerate their route through higher education to gainful employment. lets individuals demonstrate their mastery of skills and knowledge by taking online, competency-based tests to earn college credit, certifications and badges that advance their careers.

“Only 56% of students finish their bachelor’s degree within six years – and even those who do are burdened by more than $25,000 in debt on average. shortens this timeline and streamlines the system by partnering with colleges and professional organizations to create, license and deliver high-quality, online exams from trusted providers, enabling proof of learning,” said Co-Founder and CEO Jason Palmer.

A credential represents competencies learned or complex skills mastered. Competency-based learning focuses on outcomes, rather than seat time.  Both President Obama and the Department of Education have praised colleges and universities pursuing competency-based models and noted their potential to shorten the time to degree completion and reduce costs. is actively partnering with colleges and universities seeking to pursue a competency-based approach.

Founded at the Maryland Technology Enterprise Institute (Mtech) at the University of Maryland, hopes to follow in the footsteps of the institute’s successful portfolio companies. will initially focus on college credit by exams and certifications in accounting, business, technology and computer science.

“Undergraduate business and technology programs are growing quickly because of strong employer demand.  Students with credentials in computer science, engineering and accounting earn the highest salaries after graduation.  Many students in these disciplines are learning from MOOCs, self-study or work experience, directly. will enable these individuals to earn valuable credentials by passing competency exams,” said Palmer. is led by an experienced team of education experts and supported by a well-recognized board of advisors, including the former CEOs of Blackboard, Certiport and Kaplan Ventures.

Co-Founder Jason Palmer is an education technology entrepreneur and executive with twenty years of experience.  Before co-founding, Palmer held a series of executive positions at Microsoft, SchoolNet, Kaplan and StraighterLine.  Palmer holds a B.A. from the University of Virginia, an M.B.A. from Harvard Business School, and also serves on the Foundation Board of the University of Virginia’s Curry School of Education.

Co-Founder Elizabeth Prior most recently led product management in online programs and services for Blackboard.  Earlier in her career, Prior served in multiple strategic and operational roles at Pearson and Strayer University.  Before, Prior also helped multiple educational start-ups with strategic planning and operations. Prior completed her B.S.E. in Industrial Engineering at the University of Michigan and M.B.A. at MIT Sloan School of Management.

“There are 37 million Americans who’ve taken some college, but stopped before earning a degree. For these people especially, improving your career means proving to employers that you have specific skills that make you qualified for the job. That’s what plans to enable by administering high-quality credit-by-exams, certifications and badges,” said Prior.

Over time, will offer hundreds of ways for students to earn college credit and employees to earn certifications for career advancement.  The company will also help colleges, universities and other education innovators validate higher learning and reach more students. Through partnerships and alliances, aims to become the leader in delivering high-stakes tests that lead to digital credentials based on competencies, instead of tradition.

About is an innovative start-up with a mission to accelerate higher education and professional certifications by enabling students and employees to prove their competencies and earn high-quality credentials, regardless of age, location or financial circumstances.  Launched from the University of Maryland accelerator Mtech, is a fast growing company with big ambitions.  For more information, please visit

About the Maryland Technology Enterprise Institute (Mtech)

The mission of Mtech is to educate the next generation of technology entrepreneurs, create successful technology ventures, and connect Maryland companies with university resources to help them succeed. Founded in 1983, Mtech has had a $29.4 billion impact on the Maryland economy.  Top-selling products such as MedImmune Synagis®, which protects infants from a deadly respiratory disease, and Hughes Communications HughesNet®, which brings satellite-based, high-speed Internet access to the world, were developed or enhanced by our programs.  Billion dollar companies such as Martek Biosciences and Digene Corporation graduated from our institute.  For more information, please visit


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