Value of Prior Learning Assessment Policies for Colleges

Title: Make It Count: Recognizing Prior Learning for Workforce Development (2020)

Source: Association of Community College Trustees

A recent report from the Association of Community College Trustees highlights the impact of prior learning assessment (PLA) policies for colleges. PLA permit institutions to award college credit to students for experiences and training beyond the traditional classroom setting, including employer-provided training and military experience among others. This allows students to earn credit for experience and competencies they already have, reducing both time to degree and costs incurred.

According to the report, 44 percent of community college students are over the age of 25 and 5 percent are veterans. The brief suggests that PLA policies can provide support to a large proportion of adult learners, citing survey research from the Strada Education Network which found that, while 46 percent of Americans believed they needed additional education to advance their careers, adult students were more likely to look to employers for these needs. Additionally, a separate study from the Council for Adult and Experimental Learning found adult students who received any amount of PLA credit were 2.5 times more likely to complete their degrees compared to peers who did not receive any PLA credit.

The brief presents overviews of PLA adoption and implementation at Eastern West Virginia Community and Technical College, and the Dallas County Community College District. In both cases, PLA policies rely on partnerships with local organizations and employers to align academic experience and workforce needs, and allow credits to be transferrable should students want to pursue bachelor’s degrees.

For the full report, please visit the Association of Community College Trustees website here.

—Charles Sanchez

Higher Education Today