Consultants: Prior Learning Assessment and Competency Based Assessment
The Council for Adult and Experiential Learning (CAEL) is seeking to expand its pool of qualified consultants to work on behalf of CAEL to support colleges and college consortia as they develop, refine, and implement Prior Learning Assessment (PLA) and Competency-Based Assessment (CBA) programs and policies. CAEL is working with colleges to identify their PLA/CBA objectives and needs, and consultants with appropriate expertise will be invited by CAEL to work directly with CAEL and the colleges to address those needs. The purpose of this notice is to identify individuals to perform consulting and training on behalf of CAEL and in accordance with CAEL’s standards. CAEL will engage eligible consultants as needed, based on their specific skills and expertise, as well as availability. Inclusion in the pool does not guarantee employment as a CAEL consultant.
QUALIFICATIONS DUE DATE
CAEL will accept qualifications on an ongoing basis. Consultants are encouraged to submit qualifications prior to August 15, 2013. Qualifications are to be submitted to Joel Simon at firstname.lastname@example.org.
CAEL hosted a webinar for prospective consultants on August 1, 2013, a recording of the webinar can be viewed here.
Consultants whose qualifications are appropriate for work with CAEL and partner colleges may be required to participate in a training exercise prior to delivering any consulting services on behalf of CAEL
For nearly 40 years, CAEL, a non-profit organization, has been dedicated to removing barriers to lifelong learning, and putting meaningful learning, credentials and work within reach of every adult. CAEL is the nation’s recognized leader in PLA policy and practice and is among the leading organizations with expertise in Competency-Based Assessment. CAEL works with colleges and universities, employers, labor organizations, foundations, and the public sector to create and implement programs that support lifelong learning and educational attainment. We also work with communities experiencing economic change and provide research, consulting, and technical assistance to the learning provider community (colleges, job training programs, career awareness efforts etc.) to develop skills among the local population to enable business attraction, retention, and success.
About the Consulting Work
As the nation goes through economic changes, communities and institutions must provide skills development and learning opportunities in order to meet the demands of the 21st century. To satisfy current and emerging skills needs, employers will not be able to rely solely upon the pipeline of young people entering education and employment. Employers and educational institutions must also engage adults who already have skills and work experience, but who may not have the necessary credentials and/or complete range of requisite knowledge and skills.
It is our challenge to help adults make a smooth transition, applying their prior learning wherever possible to improve engagement, retention, and success in higher education, and success in maintaining their employability. Although most colleges and universities have some PLA policies and some have active PLA programs, such policies and programs are typically underutilized, and most often few students take advantage of them. Other institutions recognize the need to grant credit for prior learning but have not developed or implemented relevant policies and practices.
Community colleges are well-positioned to serve adults who bring prior learning to their studies and to be flexible and responsive to employer needs. CAEL is already working with a number of community colleges to more effectively leverage best practices in PLA and CBA as ways to help individuals engage (or re-engage) in the education they need for employment in their communities and to help them move through their education in an efficient and cost-effective manner.
As these community colleges and college consortia use PLA and CBA to better serve both learners and employers, many recognize that they will need to build or adjust policies to have the greatest impact and to ensure that their policies are relevant and meaningful for specific industries, college programs/disciplines, and learner populations.
A range of methods are used for documenting and validating college-level learning, including prior learning portfolios, skills demonstrations, recognition of industry credentials and non-credit training, third-party evaluations, and standardized testing – often including competency-based assessments. . If you are interested in consulting for CAEL, you need to be familiar with the range of PLA and competency-based assessment techniques and tools, and not limited to any particular method or tool.
Assistance to the colleges and college consortia will likely include:
• Policy Development Assistance. Many colleges have some policies for assessing and crediting prior learning and providing Competency-Based Assessment but existing policy may not encourage active utilization or be relevant to target populations, target industries, or academic disciplines. CAEL Consultants may be needed to work with the institutions to examine, expand, or adjust policies to better meet the needs of the targeted learners, industries, and academic departments
• Faculty and Staff Training. Some colleges may have the policies in place necessary to recognize and award credit for prior learning but may lack the staff capacity to bring PLA and CBA programs to scale. CAEL trainers may be called upon to provide a variety of staff development activities, such as training for academic leadership on PLA standards and processes, PLA awareness and assessment training for faculty, and training for advisors and counselors on promoting PLA among target populations and supporting students as they develop education plans that incorporate their prior learning credits.
• Applying PLA and CBA to key disciplines. The Consultants’ assistance to colleges will include broad application of PLA, but will largely focus on how to use PLA as a tool for engagement and completion in particular disciplines. In general, CAEL partner colleges are focusing on specific disciplines linked to careers in targeted industries. These include Manufacturing and Advanced Manufacturing, Information Technology, Energy, Healthcare, and other career fields. CAEL Consultants may be asked to help institutions identify the best methods to validate learning and competency in those disciplines, creating rubrics for assessment of particular skills, and working with employers and faculty to determine feasible approaches for assessing prior learning and competencies, identifying learning gaps and developing ways to efficiently address those gaps.
• Other Consulting/Assistance. Through work with the colleges and the consortia, CAEL and CAEL Consultants may discover the need for other forms of assistance as well CAEL may call upon CAEL Consultants to help address these other needs as well.
Consultants working for CAEL to support PLA and CBA policy and practice at partner community colleges must be able to demonstrate the following:
• Commitment to adult learners and to CAEL’s mission
• Knowledge of and experience with Prior Learning Assessment and Competency-Based Assessment, as evidenced by some formal professional development via CAEL or other recognized bodies
• Experience within a college or university setting implementing a range of PLA processes and/or addressing PLA/CBA policies, with a preference for experience within a community college
• Adherence to all CAEL standard and policy positions with regard to best practice in PLA and CBA
• Knowledge of regional accrediting bodies related to awarding credit for prior learning and other forms of direct assessment and financial aid policies related to payment for PLA and other forms of direct assessment
• Experience working with a range of stakeholders within Higher Education institutions
• Excellent oral and written communication skills
• Ability to synthesize and integrate a range of individual facts and pieces of information
• Understanding of and respect for the role of community colleges, including both for-credit and non-credit areas
• Ability to represent CAEL and the field of adult learning with integrity and positively
• Willingness to travel to partner locations, if needed
• Expertise in one or more areas of PLA assistance (approaches, policy, staff and/or faculty professional development, portfolio assessment, industry-specific application, preferably in one or more targeted disciplines)
In order to be considered as a CAEL PLA and/or CBA consultant please submit the following to Joel Simon, CAEL Vice President (email@example.com). Consultants are encouraged to submit their qualifications by August 15, 2013, but will be accepted on an ongoing basis. Consultant statements of qualifications should include the following:
• A cover letter indicating the area(s) of expertise as indicated above (policy, training, discipline-specific application of PLA methods), as well as proposed consulting rates (hourly and daily)
• A brief biography or resume
• Description of experience, training related to the particular area(s) of expertise (no more than one page per area of expertise please)
• Consultants seeking assignments in the Policy area must submit sample policies and description of the policy consulting project(s) that resulted in a particular policy
• Consultants seeking assignments in the Training area must submit descriptions of PLA or CBA -related trainings delivered, as well as sample training materials and evaluations
• Consultants seeking assignments in the Key Career and Technical Disciplines area must submit a description of how you have worked to define and assess discipline-specific learning outcomes, including any relevant analyses or work product(s). Although the initiatives that CAEL is supporting each focus on specific industries and related academic disciplines, the work product and experience does not necessarily need to be within the identified disciplines/industries. However, you must describe the overall approaches used and demonstrate that you can apply useful approaches within other career and technical subject areas. Again, please keep descriptions as focused and concise as you can.
• A minimum of three (3) references, including contact information. References should be those who are able to speak to your qualifications in the specific area(s) of expertise (Policy, Training and Key Disciplines) for which you are applying for qualification.
Selected consultants may be required to attend an orientation and training session prior to being assigned a consulting project or client college.
A brief Q&A can also be found here.