Make it Count: Recognizing Prior Learning for Workforce Development (2020)

Community college students often bring knowledge to the classroom from previous professional and academic experiences. However, these learners, their institutions and employers, often struggle with bridging these competencies to support learners’ efforts to reach their academic and career goals. This report from the Association of Community College Trustees looks at community colleges’ practice of awarding credit for prior learning, known as prior learning assessments (PLAs), to bridge student workforce and academic competencies as part of their workforce development strategies.The report includes two examples of how institutions have incorporated PLAs into their academic programs. In West Virginia, Eastern West Virginia Community and Technical College created a degree specific to students who enter with PLA credits and streamlined statewide policy to increase efficiency. In Texas, Dallas County Community College District partnered with a non-traditional education provider to create pathways with guaranteed transfer in business and criminal justice. Postsecondary institutions interested in supporting students by awarding credit for prior learning and work experiences and incorporating PLAs into their workforce development strategy may find this resource useful.