Prior Learning Assessment: Take Their

Prior Learning Assessment:
Take Their Knowledge
to the Next Degree
Mary Beth Lakin, Associate Director
Center for Lifelong Learning
4th Annual Plus 50 Conference
July 14, 2011
Session Agenda
• What is ACE?
• What is prior learning assessment (PLA)?
• What does the research tell us?
• How are higher ed institutions applying PLA?
Discussion Thread
Does your college apply any of the prior
learning assessment methods?
How could you incorporate prior learning
assessment in your Plus 50 program?
How might prior learning assessment attract,
retain, and benefit your program participants?
ACE: Overview
Founded in 1918, the American Council on
Education (ACE), is the major coordinating
body for all the nation's higher education
institutions, representing more than 1,600
college and university presidents, and more
than 200 related associations, nationwide.
It provides leadership on key higher education
issues and influences public policy through
What is
Prior Learning Assessment?
WHAT an individual learns is
more important than when,
where, and how the
individual learned it.
Prior Learning
Prior learning is learning gained outside the college
Prior learning occurs in a variety of settings and
through different means, from independent study
and community service to workforce and military
training and experience.
Prior learning may be equivalent to college-level
skills and knowledge and warrant academic credit.
Prior Learning Assessment
Many colleges evaluate for academic credit the
college-level knowledge and skills an
individual has gained outside of the
classroom, including employment, military
training/service, travel, hobbies, civic
activities and volunteer service.
PLA awards credit for learning,
not credit for experience.
Multiple Assessment Methods
• Formal evaluation of workplace training
• Formal evaluation of military occupations and training
• Nationally recognized certifications developed to meet
industry/professional standards
• Challenge exams offered by colleges
• Portfolio development to demonstrate course knowledge or
• Blended assessment methods
ACE Center for Lifelong Learning
• Program Evaluations
– Military Programs
– Corporate Programs (ACE CREDIT)
• Program Evaluation Activities
– Evaluate formal courses and occupational specialties
– Publish course and occupation descriptions and academic
credit recommendations
– Provide transcript and registry services
ACE’s Military Evaluation Program
• MEP provides institutions with basis for recognizing
military educational experiences in terms of civilian
academic credit.
• Since the early 1940s, MEP has reviewed
& made credit recommendations for
thousands of college-level courses
offered by the military services.
• In 1974 MEP began evaluation of military occupational
Military Guide Online
Example of Military Transcript: SMART
ACE College Credit Recommendation Service
began in mid-1970s.
Review process for participating
organizations uses standards and procedures
established through
Military Evaluation Program.
Federal Bureau of Prisons
Immigration and Naturalization Service
U.S. Marshals Service
Foreign Service Institute
ACE Transcript Services
ACE CREDIT Registry and Transcript System
What Does the Research
Tell Us?
Application of PLA can. . .
number of
pathways to
Accelerate time
to completion
Reach out to
Decrease cost
Inspire the Reluctant
Opportunity to earn credit for prior learning is 1 of
top motivators for adults with some college but no degree.
The demand is there
2010 study of 88 community colleges:
46% indicated greater use of PLA at their
institution if they could evaluate technical
training & map to courses.
72% said they thought there would be increased
demand for PLA options in the future.
So are the challenges
Institutional Buy-in
Allocation of Time & Resources
Professional Development
Templates for Policy & Practice
Articulation & Transfer
Financing Assessment: Learners & Evaluators
Learner Expectations
Fueling the Race To Postsecondary Success
2010 report of 48-institution
study of PLA & outcomes for
62,475 learners age 25 & older
Increased graduation rates,
greater persistence, & shorter
time to degree regardless of
institutional type & size
Policy and Practice Matter
• College-level knowledge & competencies can be
demonstrated and validated through multiple
• Adults bring range of learning experiences and
require range of methods.
• With more options comes increased likelihood for
greater numbers of learners to complete
• More flexibility translates to better academic
Employer Perspectives
• Corporate Voices for Working Families:
Promotes PLA & educational partnerships as
leading edge practices
• Department of Defense: Identified millions of
dollars in tuition savings with application of ACE
• Delta Study: Found company & employees saved
dollars & time to degree
How are Higher Ed Institutions
applying PLA?
At the institutional level
• Ivy Tech Community College:
Certification Crosswalk
• Excelsior College:
Degree Maps for McDonald’s training programs
• Coastline Community College:
A.S., Health Care Management
At the state level
• NJ PLACE at Rutgers University:
Pathways Leading Apprentices to a College Education
• Minnesota Colleges and Universities:
System Wide Policies for PLA Options
• Wisconsin Prior Learning Assessment Expansion:
At the national level
• Maps to Credentials: Creating an Integrated
Prior Learning Assessment Model
• Virtual Career Network (VCN): Providing PLA
tools & resources in healthcare
• Troops to Energy Jobs: Center for Energy
Workforce Development
• Learning Counts: Virtual PLA Service
Mapping PLA Credits to Credentials
• Guide learner to degree completion.
• Chart prior learning credits to specific courses.
• Include all aspects of degree requirements.
• Provide assessment options for new learning.
• Adapt for programs & populations.
Example: Minnesota State Colleges & Universities System
Veterans’ Course Mappings:
Degree Mapping Initiative
Mapping PLA Credits to Credentials
ACE CREDIT College & University Network
• Recognition of ACE Credit Recommendations
• Advocacy & Articulation
• Development of Employer Partnerships
• Creation of Maps to Credentials
• Website Profiles
The maps they gave us
were out of date by years.
--Adrienne Rich
Questions for Plus50 Learners:
Take Their Prior Learning To the Next Degree
• Are you a military veteran? Have you requested a
copy of your military transcript?
• Have you completed formal workplace training?
• Do you have any professional certifications?
• Have you successfully completed national
examinations such as CLEP or DANTES?
• Do you have other work or community experiences
that might translate to college-level credit?
Discussion Thread
Does your college apply any of the prior
learning assessment methods?
How could you incorporate prior learning
assessment in your Plus 50 program?
How might prior learning assessment attract,
retain, and benefit your program participants?
Mary Beth Lakin
[email protected]

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