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CAEL Pathways Blog

CAEL Releases Research Report on Short-term, High-value Credentials

CAEL has released, Speed, Value, and Economic Mobility - How Community Colleges Are Developing Short-term, High-Value Credentials, a new research report. For the report, Becky Klein-Collins, vice president of research and impact, and Lana Munip, senior research director, interviewed representatives of 10 community colleges that grant non-degree credentials characterized by Speed, Value, and Economic mobility - or SVEs, for short. In contrast with many other types of short term certificate programs, SVEs are high-quality non-degree credentials that can be completed in one year or less, lead to good-paying jobs in high-demand industries, and can stack into degree programs. These are the ideal kind of short-term program for adult learners and workers who want skills and credentials to access good jobs as a viable alternative to a four-year college degree. 

Examples of SVEs and how they lead to good jobs and the possibility for future learning and credentialing are many. Two are shown here: 

In these models, the institutions shared how they are using credit for prior learning (CPL) both as an on-ramp to SVE programs as well as a mechanism to bridge noncredit and credit programs. With respect to the on-ramp function, several colleges viewed CPL as a way to recognize knowledge gained from life experiences and work outside the classroom within the SVE program itself. As CAEL has found in previous research studies, CPL can be a powerful tool in bolstering students' confidence as learners, saving them money and time, and boosting completion rates. Several of the colleges also described a credit crosswalk process where CPL was awarded for noncredit credentials, thus further enabling stackability.

Although the 10 colleges represent a diversity of regions, enrollments, and economic conditions, the report revealed common themes relating to the success of SVEs. They include:

  • The central role of regional economic drivers in program design.
  • A recognition of the importance of seamless stacking of learning and credentials.
  • A commitment to equity-centered practices in design and delivery.
  • Continued data collection needs, particularly in the area of employment outcomes.

The full report is available at cael.org.

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