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Competition for adult students is increasingly fierce. If you are not improving your services to adults, you are likely falling behind. CAEL helps colleges and universities evolve in our rapidly changing higher education system. Prior Learning Assessment (PLA) is one way to enroll college students and empower them to complete their degree.

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THE ROAD TO PRIOR LEARNING ASSESSMENT

CAEL’s Standards for Assessing Learning serve as a guide for institutions to use in creating, implementing and evaluating assessment strategies. Our workshops, trainings, tools and services can help to structure and support PLA at your institution, ensuring that you are successfully supporting adult students in reaching their educational goals.

CAEL Statement on PLA for Foreign Languages

The Council for Adult and Experiential Learning (CAEL) was founded on the idea that a person’s skills and learning should be valued by higher education, regardless of how those skills and learning were acquired. Prior learning assessment (PLA) is one way that colleges and universities can evaluate a person’s college-level extra-institutional learning for the purposes of awarding college credit or advanced standing. PLA policies should not discriminate against students who may have acquired their skills and knowledge through specific types of life experiences, including family background and upbringing. Native and heritage speakers of non-English languages, for example, should have the same opportunities as non-heritage speakers to demonstrate their learning and earn college credit. This is an issue not only about equity and fairness, but also about impact: CAEL research of adult students at ten Hispanic-serving institutions found that Latino students were five times more likely than non-Latino students to earn PLA credit for foreign languages compared to non-Latino students. Our findings further suggest that Spanish PLA credit may have a motivational effect: about half of Latino students with foreign language PLA credit also earned PLA credit in other areas of study.

 

More information about this topic is available from the College Board.

  • Fundamentals of PLA Assessment Workshop- In this workshop, faculty and administrators become attuned to the adult student perspective and come to understand the rigor, consistency and high academic standards involved in the proper use of PLA.
  • PLA Assessment Online Certificate Program- Offered in partnership with DePaul University, this web-based program provides faculty and administrators with the basic tools they need to implement a PLA program.
  • Faculty Assessor Certification- We train faculty to understand the relationship and differences between assessing learning and classroom assignments and discover ways to provide clear and supportive feedback to students.
  • Prepare for Accreditation Review- We help you ensure that your adult focused programs meet the highest standard by working with your faculty to develop a systematic assessment that is consistent with your policies and CAEL’s PLA standards.
  • Promote Your PLA Programs- Our practical strategies for embedding your adult-focused programs and offerings into your communications will help you drive enrollments.
  • Create a Strong Student Experience- We’ll help you create a clear map of the student path so you can make adjustments and create the optimal adult student experience.
  • LearningCounts- The LearningCounts online portfolio assessment service offers an opportunity to scale up and modernize your PLA offerings.
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  • PLA Accelerator- Our online tool navigates students through questions about their learning experiences, capturing the full spectrum of PLA opportunities which allows advisors to have a more informed conversation about PLA with students. Learn More
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