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ERIC Number: ED561965
Record Type: Non-Journal
Publication Date: 2014-Oct
Pages: 9
Abstractor: As Provided
Reference Count: 12
Holding Tight or at Arm's Length: How Higher Education Regional Accrediting Bodies Address PLA. Research Brief
Council for Adult and Experiential Learning
Prior learning assessment (PLA) is the term used for the various ways in which higher education institutions and other organizations assess an individual's learning for the purposes of granting college credit, certification, or advanced standing in a postsecondary education program. In recent years, there has been growing interest in PLA from postsecondary institutions, government officials, and the philanthropic community as a way to support higher rates of adult degree completion. In this research brief, the Council for Adult and Experiential Learning (CAEL) explores the role of regional accrediting organizations in shaping institutional PLA policies and practices. Regional accrediting organizations are private, nongovernmental organizations created for the specific purpose of reviewing higher education institutions and programs for quality. CAEL examined the policies of the six regional accrediting organizations: (1) Middle States Association of Colleges and Schools (MSACS); (2) New England Association of Schools and Colleges (NEASC); (3) North Central Association of College and Schools (NCA) under which the Higher Learning Commission (HLC) accredits degree-granting colleges and universities; (4) Northwest Commission on Colleges and Universities (NWCCU); (5) Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges (SACSCOC); and (6) Western Association of Schools and Colleges (WASC). CAEL found that all six regional accrediting bodies reference experiential or prior learning assessment in their policies or guidelines. All of the accrediting bodies require that prior experiential learning be comparable to the results of institutionally provided learning experiences, but there are noticeable differences. Some of the policies leave most of the decisions on PLA up to the institution, while others are more prescriptive.
Council for Adult and Experiential Learning. 55 East Monroe Street Suite 1930, Chicago, IL 60603. Tel: 312-499-2600; Fax: 312-499-2601; e-mail:; Web site:
Publication Type: Reports - Evaluative
Education Level: Higher Education; Postsecondary Education
Audience: N/A
Language: English
Sponsor: N/A
Authoring Institution: Council for Adult and Experiential Learning
Identifiers - Location: United States