Academic Credit for Prior Learning
Prior learning means knowledge and skills gained through any of the following:
- Work and life experience.
- Military training and experience.
- Formal and informal education.
- Training from in-state, and out-of-state, or foreign schools.
Academic credit for prior learning can make education more affordable for students. It can also reduce the time it takes to finish a certificate or degree. All public colleges in Washington State assess and award academic credit for prior learning.
Assessing and awarding credit
Methods and costs for assessing and awarding credit vary by school. Methods include:
- Standardized tests like CLEP and DANTES.
- Course challenge examinations.
- Portfolio assessment.
- Crosswalks between work-based learning and college courses.
In most cases, it will cost less for students to get credit for prior learning than it would to take a college course. And when students get credit for prior learning, they may be able to skip lower level courses and take higher level courses.
Prior learning policy
In 2012, the Legislature directed WSAC to convene an academic credit for prior learning workgroup and give an annual report on progress toward the following goals. The report is due by December 31 each year and WSAC submitted the most recent report in 2016.
The Academic Credit for Prior Learning Workgroup
The workgroup has many goals.
1. Increase the number of students who receive prior learning credit.
2. Increase the number of students who have prior learning credit that counts toward their major or credential.
3. Increase the number and type of prior learning credits accepted by public postsecondary schools.
4. Ensure public postsecondary schools only award academic credit for high quality, college-level competencies.
5. Develop transparent policies and practices to award prior learning credit.
6. Improve prior learning assessment practices at public postsecondary schools.
7. Create tools to develop faculty and staff knowledge and expertise.
8. Share exemplary policies and practices among public postsecondary schools.
9. Develop articulation agreements for common programs and pathways.
10. Develop outcome measures to track progress and goals.