Case Study

Prior Learning Assessment & Recognition System

Fastpath ohio logo

PLA with a Purpose in Ohio

  • PublishedApril 18th 2023
  • ServicesSoftware Development
  • IndustryHigher Education

With estimates from Georgetown University’s Center on Education and the Workforce indicating that 56% of jobs in Ohio would require some sort of postsecondary credential by 2025, a consortium of the state’s educators set out to provide comprehensive education and training to workers who are in transition or in need of more advanced skills to thrive in the state’s knowledge driven economy. Together, the Ohio TechNet member community colleges and universities and the Ohio Department of Higher Education identified that credit for prior learning was a priority area to expand access and increase student success. They determined that partnering with AcademyOne to customize and implement our AssessED™ multi-institutional prior learning assessment and recognition platform was the ideal solution.
The Story of Credit for Prior Learning in Ohio

As part of the Trade Adjustment Assistance Community College and Career Training Program, Ohio community colleges and universities were awarded a total of $55,311,648 by the US Department of Labor to enrich programs of study that lead to industry-recognized credentials, improve equipment, and support student success toward degree completion. The Ohio TechNet consortium of community colleges and universities, in partnership with the Ohio Department of Job & Family Services and the state’s Department of Higher Education, decided in 2017 to leverage a portion of the grant funding to support their prior learning assessment and recognition initiatives and began the search for a software vendor to collaborate with and tailor a product that would fulfill their needs.

The Challenge Ohio Faced Before Implementing AssessED™

While Ohio recognized the importance of awarding college credit for experiential learning gained outside of the classroom, they were faced with hurdles brought about by executing their PLA objectives on a multi-institutional level. The challenges included increasing student awareness and understanding of opportunities available to them and curbing the amount of labor-intensive, paper-based tasks associated with credit petitions and evaluations that would incumber their faculty and staff.

Why Ohio Chose AssessED™

Lead institution, Lorain County Community College issued a competitive RFP and selected AcademyOne as their software vendor of choice to provide a scalable prior learning assessment platform that would create uniformity and credibility while preserving institutional autonomy and easing the burden of manual tasks. The website helps students explore options and courses that may correlate with their experience, connects them with an advisor, and walks them through the process of building a knowledge portfolio for faculty evaluation.

The Prior Learning Assessment and Recognition System Features
Dedicated PLA Portal with Single Sign-On

The system delivers an online destination that is a central information center for educating students on all prior learning assessment policies, practices, and methods.

Eligibility Wizard

The system starts with a few questions for students to answer which determine level of experience and if earning credit through a prior learning assessment is a good fit.

E-Portfolio Evaluation System

The system provides a workflow that pairs students with an advisor to determine the best CPL option for them to pursue, walks them through the petition for credit process, and assigns the portfolio to a faculty evaluator to make the credit award decision.

System Reports

The system provides colleges with data on students that have submitted PLA petitions and accepted e-Portfolio evaluating fee payments.


The system gives access to common scoring criteria with expected learning outcomes to assist faculty evaluators.

Message Center

The system allows students, their advisors, and assessors to communicate with each other. All messages are saved with each petition for history and tracking purposes.


The system lets every user see exactly what is going on during each step of the process. They can create and manage petitions for credit, check recent activity, view notifications, and edit their profile.

Centralized Data

The system warehouses all prior learning recognition options including challenge exams, national and local evaluations, and standard exams.

Credit for Prior Learning Workflow
workflow of PLA process

I am a one-person office. The AssessED™ software enables me to manage the Prior Learning Assessment process from start to finish. The software has simplified what the student and faculty need to do. What was once a time-consuming manual process has become a very management task!

Carrie Delaney, Loraine County Community College Projects Coordinator of PLA & Career ReStart
Proven Results

Ohio’s implementation of AssessED™ branded FastPathOhio is an innovative multi-institutional platform supporting their PLA initiatives. It gives students a consistent overall experience and broadens their prospects to earn college credit and save time and money to earning their degree. Participating community colleges and universities benefit by having technology with defined workflow processes that improve communication, systematize institutional procedures, and establish a common framework for awarding credit for prior learning.

PLA boosted credential Completion

Adult students credential completion rates:

With PLA
Without PLA
PLA has potential to close equity gaps in postsecondary completion

Using propensity score matching to control for other factors, PLA boosted completion rates for key adult student groups by:

Hispanic adults
Pell Grant
Black Adults
Adults at community colleges
PLA students earned credits for nearly a semester of full-time study and saved money

On average, adult students earned and saved up to:

PLA credits

PLA credits through methods other than credit received for military

1,500 to $10,200

Estimated adult student savings through PLA

Average additional course credits taken by adult PLA students

*CAEL and WICHE PLA Boost Report Key Findings Klein-Collins, Rebecca, et al. The PLA Boost, Western Interstate Commission for Higher Education and The Council for Adult and Experiential Learning, Revised December 2020.

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