Prior Learning Assessment Goes Statewide at Pennsylvania’s Community Colleges
On February 2, 2015, Pennsylvania’s community college system became the first in the country to introduce a statewide Prior Learning Assessment (PLA) initiative – the “College Credit FastTrack.” The state’s 14 community colleges — led by Montgomery County Community College — have agreed upon common standards for awarding PLA credits and created a website and e-portfolio platform for the state’s community college students interested in pursuing credit for past educational, workforce, and life experiences.
While individual institutions have offered PLA in the past, College Credit FastTrack aims to synthesize and streamline the process for Pennsylvania’s adult learners. Students can create an account on the site and connect with an advisor from the institution of their choice to walk them through the process of earning PLA credit. Users can upload documentation of their experiences to an e-portfolio, and in some cases qualify for credit directly through the site. Those who do choose to submit an e-portfolio for assessment are charged a nominal fee for the service. The site also provides information on alternative methods of PLA, as well as a page dedicated to service members and veterans.
The initiative was funded by a $2.5 million Trade Adjustment Assistance Community College and Career Training (TAACCCT) grant from the U.S. Department of Labor, awarded in 2012.