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LearningCounts.org A New Prior Learning Assessment Initiative. Judy Wertheim V.P., Higher Education Services Higher Education Conference on Enrollment Management February 23, 2011. What Is CAEL?. The Council for Adult and Experiential Learning www.cael.org. What Is CAEL?.

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learningcounts org a new prior learning assessment initiative

LearningCounts.orgA New Prior Learning Assessment Initiative

Judy Wertheim

V.P., Higher Education Services

Higher Education Conference on Enrollment Management

February 23, 2011

what is cael
What Is CAEL?

The Council for Adult and Experiential Learning


what is cael1
What Is CAEL?

CAEL is a non-profit 501 (c) (3) organization, with headquarters in Chicago.

CAEL’s Mission: CAEL advances lifelong learning in partnership with educational institutions, employers, labor organizations, government, and communities

CAEL works to remove the barriers to adults so that they can pursue higher education and realize their potential.

some barriers to adult participation
Some Barriers to Adult Participation




removing the barriers
Removing the Barriers




Can Help

how can pla help
How Can PLA Help?

What Is PLA?

The evaluation for college credit of the knowledge and skills one gains from life experiences (or from non-college instructional programs) including:




civic activities

volunteer service

military service

how can pla help1
How Can PLA Help?

PLA Methods

  • Standardized exams
    • Advanced Placement (AP)
    • College Level Examination Program (CLEP)
    • Excelsior College Exams
    • DANTES Subject Standardized Tests (DSST)
  • Evaluation of non-college training (e.g. corporate or military)
  • Challenge exams
  • Individual student portfolios
standards to ensure quality
Standards to Ensure Quality

The 10 CAEL Standards for Assessing Learning ensure quality

#1: Credit or its equivalent should be awarded only for learning, and not for experience.

how can pla help2
How Can PLA Help?

CAEL Study of PLA and Student Outcomes

  • 48-institution study of PLA and academic outcomes, funded by Lumina Foundation for Education (Fueling the Race to Postsecondary Success)
  • 62,475 total adult students in our sample (adult = age 25 or older)
  • Increased Graduation Rates, Greater Persistence, and Shorter Time to Degree
cael s new pla initiative
CAEL’s New PLA Initiative


planning for learningcounts org
Planning for LearningCounts.org
  • Funded by Lumina Foundation for Education
    • November, 2009 – May, 2010
  • Business and marketing plans completed
    • May, 2010
learningcounts org
Will use on-line platform

Will help students earn all forms of PLA credit

(CAEL is working with ACE and the College Board.)

Credit recommendations from LearningCounts.org faculty experts will be sent on ACE transcript to colleges

learningcounts org1
  • Pilot phase began July 1, 2010

Funded by:

    • Joyce Foundation
    • Kresge Foundation
    • Lumina Foundation for Education
    • State Street Foundation
    • Walmart Foundation
learningcounts org will offer students
LearningCounts.org will offer students:

Brief assessment of whether LearningCounts.org is appropriate at this time

One-on-one advising

Advice about ways to earn college credit for learning

PLA course (theory and practice)

Faculty assessment of the PLA portfolio(s)

Record of credit recommendations on an ACE transcript

Archive of the portfolio

whom will it serve
Whom Will It Serve?

Individuals already enrolled in community colleges or four-year institutions

Provide support for postsecondary institutions that have no existing PLA programs

Augment existing PLA programs at some postsecondary institutions

whom will it serve1
Whom Will It Serve?
  • Unaffiliated individuals not yet in college or having started but never finished college
    • Active duty military and veterans
      • Document and certify skills from their military careers
    • Workers in transition or lower-income workers
      • Workforce Investment Boards might send workers to document skills from previous jobs and have that learning evaluated by faculty
whom will it serve2
Whom Will It Serve?
  • Employers and industry groups
    • To pursue the further credentialing of their employees
    • To document learning that has already been completed and identify skills gaps
learningcounts org can help if your institution
LearningCounts.org Can Help If Your Institution:

Lacks a PLA program at your institution

Cannot keep up with high volume of portfolio submissions

Lacks personnel to adequately staff the PLA program

learningcounts org can help if your institution1
LearningCounts.org Can Help If Your Institution:

Lacks credentialed faculty to review submitted portfolios in certain fields

Is interested in streamlining the process through increased capacity and speed

Will rely on LearningCounts.org as an interim resource

faculty assessors
Faculty Assessors

We are seeking applicants from across all disciplinary areas

Faculty assessors and instructors will have qualifications equivalent to those that would enable them to lead an undergraduate classroom

Assessors and instructors will receive formal training from CAEL

To apply: [email protected]

requirements to participate in the pilot phase
Requirements to Participate in the Pilot Phase

Be an active institutional/system/organizational CAEL member

Refer 5 students to LearningCounts.org in each pilot year

Accept credit recommendations as you would any other transfer credits

Be self-identified as adult friendly

Have the approval of an administrator (e.g. president, vice president, chief academic officer or dean) to participate

criteria for students
Criteria for Students

Are matriculated at your institution

Are in good standing at your institution

Understand the costs involved. (Tuition for the PLA course = $500.00. Fees for portfolio assessment = $250/1-6 credit hours requested in a single discipline.)

Understand that the portfolio development course lasts six weeks and will require approximately 10 hours of work each week

criteria for students1
Criteria for Students

Have demonstrated competency in written English

Have access to a computer with high-speed capability and are good candidates for online learning

Have not taken a similar course

Are willing to help us evaluate the course

Are planning to graduate in August, 2011 or later

learningcounts org2

Goals for the pilot phase:

Increase awareness of PLA (students, faculty, general public, states, workforce organizations, employers)

Provide more PLA options than a single institution can

Offer uniform, consistent PLA credit evaluations

Increase numbers of students who earn credit through PLA.

Involve more institutions in PLA

learningcounts org3

Goals for the pilot phase:

Teach students how to reflect on their own

learning and prepare a portfolio

Involve 2 states in policy change efforts

Extend outreach to unaffiliated students

Refine LearningCounts.org model

Track progress of students who earn PLA


learningcounts org4


Judy Wertheim

[email protected]