Prior Learning Assessment is the process by which an individual’s learning and knowledge, gained outside of the traditional classroom, is evaluated for and granted college credit.
It has become an increasingly visible part of the national college completion agenda, with broad efforts under way in several states to award credit when and where it is due.
As the U.S. economy continues to slowly recover from the recession, millions of job openings are expected to appear over the next decade and there is a growing call for more educated workers to fill those positions.
According to a report published by Georgetown University Center on Education and Workforce, “Recovery: Job Growth and Education Requirements Through 2020,” it is estimated that there will be 165 million jobs in the U.S. economy by 2020, and 65 percent of these positions will require some form of postsecondary education or training.
“At the current production rate, the United States will fall short by 5 million workers with postsecondary education.”
According to a report from the Lumina Foundation, “A Stronger Nation Through Higher Education,” only 39.4 percent of U.S. adults between the ages of 25 and 64 held a two-year or four-year degree in 2012. That figure is up from 2011, when the rate was 38.7 percent, and from 2008, when the rate was 37.9 percent.
While the number is rising, the current rate of college completion will not be fast enough to meet future job market needs.
The goal is that by 2025, 60 percent of Americans will hold a high quality degree, certificate or other credential.
65 percent of postsecondary learning occurs outside the traditional academic environment, according to a report published by Georgetown University Center on Education Workforce, "Help Wanted: Projections of Jobs and Education Requirements Through 2018.”
It appears that many Americans are acquiring their knowledge and competencies through on-the job training, military training, apprenticeships, and a variety of other programs.
“Students with PLA credit are more than twice as likely to persist to graduation, can potentially save thousands of dollars on tuition alone and save time.” says Amy Sherman, Associate VP for Policy & Strategic Alliances at the Council for Adult and Experiential Learning (CAEL).
 “Increasing Credentialed Completion” webinar, August 2014
The United States currently ranks 5th in global postsecondary attainment among 25-64 year olds, but 12th when considering 25-34 year olds, according to the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development’s “Education at a Glance 2014” report.
President Obama has set forth his College Completion Challenge, which calls for Americans to commit to at least one year or more of higher education or career training with the goal that by 2020 America will once again have the highest proportion of college graduates in the world.
Raising attainment is about more than just income. It has social implications associated with improved health, as well as better community and civic engagement – all crucial for a strong functioning society.
As the nation looks for ways to boost degree attainment, U.S. federal and state leaders have been endorsing policies to help get more Americans into and through some kind of postsecondary training. Alternative credit pathways such as PLA have received a lot more attention and are viewed as a core component to increasing attainment.
Alaska, California, Connecticut, Florida, Hawaii, Idaho, Indiana, Minnesota, Montana, Ohio, Rhode Island, South Carolina, Texas, Utah, and Virginia have all passed legislation focused on awarding prior learning credit for military service, while Colorado and Washington have passed legislation covering credit for work experience, military service, internships, and independent study.
Strategy Labs, supported by the Lumina Foundation, stresses that while the adoption of statewide legislation and policy is key – it is paramount that information be transparent and opportunities for students to receive prior learning recognition are communicated so that they are easily understood.
Pennsylvania's Community Colleges realized the need to accelerate efforts to attract and graduate adults who want to be re-employed with as little time in the classroom as possible.
AcademyOne is currently working with them to deliver a fully automated PLA solution.
To read more about this work check out, Dedicated Prior Learning Assessment Website in the Works for PA Community Colleges.
Schedule a webinar with an AcademyOne representative. We can show you step-by-step how our solutions improve performance to achieve results.
When rolling out new technologies or enhancements, we maximize user adoption by maintaining a user-centric focus throughout the project development lifecycle.
We’re already helping our state and institutional clients toward their completion goals. See what we can do for you.
AcademyOne is a consulting and software development firm working in the higher education sphere. We deliver industry-leading solutions to states and institutions who wish to improve student retention and degree completion rates, especially among the growing population of nontraditional learners.