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Simplifying CPL/PLA Through Student Centered Guided Templates: A Step Toward Equity

Recent research has highlighted the powerful benefits CPL brings to adult learners, institutions, and employers. As the success of these education-employment ecosystem niches becomes increasingly intertwined, the work of the CAEL community to raise awareness about CPL's preeminent potential can have an even greater impact.

Our research also has shown that adult Pell Grant (considered a proxy for lower income thresholds) students benefited from an even greater completion boost from CPL, especially Black adult Pell recipients. This underscores CPL's powerful potential to deliver in the struggle to close equity gaps. Unfortunately, the research also found that Black and lower-income adults are less likely to receive CPL.

With CPL participation among traditionally underserved students lagging already-low overall rates, institutions are looking for established and emerging best practices in making CPL more accessible. On Oct. 11, experts from SUNY Empire State College, which has offered CPL since its founding in the 1970s, will join CAEL to present a members-only webinar, Simplifying CPL/PLA Through Student Centered Guided Templates: A Step Toward Equity.

SUNY Empire's prior learning practice may have started in the 1970s, but its innovation around CPL has continues through the present day. Its latest enhancement to the CPL process is the iPLA guides, or individualized prior learning assessment, model. As you might guess by the "i" in iPLA, the approach is student centered. Just as important, it is also transparent and equitable.

The newest centerpiece of the iPLA program is a system of prior learning guides. The guides offer students a more seamless way to inventory diverse and disparate sources of prior learning. Unfortunately, adult learners, especially traditionally underserved students, tend to undervalue that learning -- to say nothing of the traditional higher ed paradigm. The guides help level the prior learning playing field. They empower students to see for themselves the prior learning they have accrued. They also reduce the risk of institutional reviewers overlooking experiential sources of college-level credit.

During the webinar, experts from SUNY Empire CPL, where more than 4,000 students complete the iPLA process per year, will share details about how they combined data from past CPL student experiences with interviews of CPL graduates in the workforce to tailor iPLA guides for maximum individualized impact. They will also explain how the guides are helping market the broader concept of CPL, especially among traditionally underserved students who stand to benefit the most when their prior learning experiences are validated.

Please join us on Oct. 11 for this opportunity to learn from one of the leaders of CAEL's CPL community of practice. Not a member yet? Sign up here.

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If your institution or organization is seeking guidance, solutions, or support from CAEL, or if you have an idea for a future collaboration initiative with us, please reach out. We'd love to connect.

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