Credit for prior learning is not a new concept in higher education. For many years, Tempe-based Rio Salado College has offered students the opportunity to earn credit for what they already know through standardized exams such as College Level Equivalency Program (CLEP), and advanced placement evaluation and exams recommended by the American Council on Education.
Effective July 1, 2012, Rio Salado is expanding its prior learning options to include portfolio evaluation through The Council for Adult and Experiential Learning(CAEL).
"Credit for prior learning, helps students in three ways," said Kishia Brock, vice president of student affairs at Rio Salado College. "First it reduces the cost of education by letting students package what they've learned through military or occupational training and get credit for it."
"Second, it impacts time to completion. By reducing redundancy, students can accelerate the process of earning a degree," Brock said. "Research shows that if you can do something in less time, you are going to be more successful in accomplishing that goal."
"The third thing is psychological," Brock explained. "Acknowledging what they've already done helps non-traditional adult students feel less like they are starting at a disadvantage. It helps them establish the confidence they need to get through that first semester or that first year and complete a degree or certificate."
Isaac Ortega, a local police officer said that being able to test out of foreign language classes helped him expedite his education and be prepared for promotions at work.
“Credit for prior learning opened up more time for me to take other classes I needed,” Ortega said. “And having a degree will help me to be more qualified when advancement opportunities come along.”
By improving portability of existing skill sets, credit for prior learning also promotes an adaptable workforce.
When changes in technology have an impact on employability, it's important for workers to be able to update their skills without spending a lot of time on the things they already know.
"It's a part of our role as a community college to support the local workforce," said Linda Lukey, director of testing services at Rio Salado College. "By including portfolio evaluation through CAEL, we are improving the ability of military veterans, displaced workers and anyone looking for career advancement to get credit for what they already know and get back to work that much faster."
Rio Salado students can now earn credit for prior learning through the following options:
- · Credit by Exam - CLEP, DSST, department challenge exams, advanced placement testing
- · ACE Credit by Evaluation - Based on ACE evaluation of military and corporate training programs
- · CAEL Portfolio Evaluation - Evaluation of work products and personal demonstrations of competency