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Prior Learning Assessment Resources

The Environmental Scan of Prior Learning Assessment Policies and Practices in Metro Boston report provides recommendations on how PLA policies and practices might be strengthened, expanded, and promoted as an effective acceleration strategy in creating bridges to college completion and job attainment for low-skilled adults.  The customizable materials described below were developed by the NCTN for the Retraining the Gulf Coast Workforce through IT Pathways (GCIT) Consortium.

StarStaff Guide to Prior Learning Assessment - Navigators and Program Advisors play an integral role in student success by guiding prospective and current students through their educational pathway. The staff needs to be familiar with the college's PLA policies so that they can inform the students about the potential Prior Learning credit opportunities that are available to them. This guide is geared towards the staff and builds on and ties together various PLA resources that are available to help them further understand their college's PLA policies and procedures. DOCUMENT LINK

StarFaculty Guide to Prior Learning Assessment and Challenge Exams - Of utmost importance in awarding prior learning credit is the maintenance of academic integrity. Therefore, the determination of credit awards or competency levels and the types of assessments utilized for PLA and the assessment criteria must be made by faculty. This guide summarizes ways to award PLA credit with a strong emphasis on the development and use of challenge exams, and awarding of credit for professional certifications/industry credentials and state licensure. Resources, suggested guidelines, tools, and examples are included in the guide. DOCUMENT LINK

PLAStarRetraining The Gulf Coast Workforce Through IT Pathways Consortium: Prior Learning Assessment (PLA) Best Practices provides examples of “best practices” among GCIT peers regarding PLA policies and practices. These practices provide a framework to develop new policies or updating current policies. By working collaboratively as a Consortium and peer learning group, the sharing of these practices assisted in the development of the training, practices and policies needed to achieve consistency and a streamlined approach to PLA practices among all nine colleges. DOCUMENT LINK

StarEffective PLA Policies and Practices Components and Benchmarks provides the information needed to ensure that each college has policies and procedures in place to validate college-level knowledge acquired through experiential learning that are aligned with state policy and the accreditation standards of the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools (SACS). DOCUMENT LINK

StarMilitary Credit Transcript Crosswalk Template guides the awarding of credits to veterans based on courses evaluated and approved for course substitution by the Joint Services Transcripts Crosswalk and the Community College of the Air Force Credit Crosswalk. The ACE Military Guide is highlighted as a key resource. VA officials from 2 GCIT colleges (Pearl River CC and Copiah-Lincoln CC) assisted in creating this document. DOCUMENT LINK

StarCredit for Prior Learning Procedure Template provides the understanding and articulation of clear PLA procedures and allows for customization at each college. DOCUMENT LINK

StarCredit for Prior Learning Policy Template augments the Credit for Prior Learning Procedure Template. It guides the development and revision of institutional policies, and is supported by Mississippi Board for Community Colleges (MCCB) and Louisiana Community and Technical College System (LCTCS). DOCUMENT LINK

StarCredit for Prior Learning Examination Crosswalk offers clarity for college’s awarding credit for prior learning based on standardized examinations (e.g., CLEP, DSST, AP) and professional certifications. DOCUMENT LINK

StarThe Student PLA Video frames the value of lifelong learning experiences and the potential and value of receiving college credit for these informal learning opportunities. The PLA Video is geared towards students who are planning to apply for or have been accepted in a program of study in your community college. It can be shown at a student recruitment event, program orientation, or in a one-on-one advising setting. The Student PLA Video is available to download in three different versions:

1. High resolution version [~ 700MB]

2. Medium resolution version [~ 95MB]

3. Low resolution version [~ 21MB]

You can also view, link to, and download the video online at [medium quality version] and download the video transcript.

StarClick to download the Student PLA Video Companion Guide [Word version].

For more information or any questions about these documents, please contact Priyanka Sharma at

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