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ERIC Number: ED570321
Record Type: Non-Journal
Publication Date: 2016-Mar
Pages: 76
Abstractor: ERIC
Reference Count: 65
Prior Learning Assessment and Competency-Based Education: An Overview of Programs, Policies, and Practices
Valenzuela, Ireri; MacIntyre, Donald; Klein-Collins, Becky; Clerx, John
Research and Planning Group for California Community Colleges (RP Group)
How can we help significantly more students reach their educational goals and improve their employment outcomes? How can we reign in the growing time burden and ballooning costs students must shoulder throughout their educational journey? How can we recognize the learning and experience the vast number of nontraditional students bring when they come to our colleges seeking a path to improved career opportunities and family-sustaining wages? These are some of the key questions the Los Angeles Area Chamber of Commerce (L.A. Area Chamber) was seeking to answer in collaboration with Los Angeles Trade Technical College (LATTC), in part through the implementation of a "Pathways to Academic, Career, and Transfer Success" (PACTS) framework. On behalf of the Los Angeles Chamber of Commerce (LA Chamber), the Research and Planning Group collaborated with the Council for Adult and Experiential Learning and the Moran Technology Group to conduct research on prior learning assessment (PLA) and competency-based education (CBE). This study examined policies and practices currently governing PLA and CBE at the national and state levels in order to inform program development efforts and potential advocacy for these approaches. The partners aimed to utilize the information gleaned from the research to advocate for changes in policies and practices at the state and local levels that are necessary to strengthen PLA and CBE programs across California community colleges (CCC). Two primary findings emerged from this research related to PLA/CBE in California: (1) the CCCs do not have uniform practices and policies for awarding credit for prior learning with the exception of student fees for exams associated with credit-by-exam (currently mandated to be equal to the per unit enrollment fee). Credit-by-exam appears to be the primary mechanism supported by the system to recognize prior learning. Additionally, most community colleges have policies that recognize military coursework; and (2) CCCs have been slow to embrace CBE as a method of awarding credit. Ultimately, this research reveals a considerable opportunity for this local partnership to serve as a state, if not national, leader in both modeling effective PLA and CBE practices through its PACTS framework, and in advocating for policy changes that pave the way for more students to take advantage of this innovative educational approach. [This report was made possible through the support of the Los Angeles Area Chamber of Commerce Foundation and the partnership between the Los Angeles Trade Technical College (LATTC) and the Education and Workforce Development Division of the Los Angeles Area Chamber of Commerce.]
Research and Planning Group for California Community Colleges (RP Group). 2017 O Street, Sacramento, CA 95814. Tel: 916-444-8641; Fax: 916-444-2954; Web site:
Publication Type: Reports - Research
Education Level: Two Year Colleges; Higher Education; Postsecondary Education
Audience: N/A
Language: English
Sponsor: Ford Foundation
Authoring Institution: Research and Planning Group for California Community Colleges (RP Group); Council for Adult and Experiential Learning; Moran Technology Consulting, Inc.
Identifiers - Location: California (Los Angeles)