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  • Prior Learning and Assessment

    Prior learning is defined as the knowledge and skills gained through work and life experience; through military training and experience; and through formal and informal education and training from in-state, out-of-state and international institutions.

    Prior learning assessment (PLA) is the process used to evaluate previous learning and knowledge students have acquired for academic credit. Prior learning assessment can be accomplished through standardized tests, course challenge examinations, portfolio assessment and crosswalks between work-based learning and college courses. Some PLA assessment methods cost a student more than others, but any PLA credit-earning method will typically cost less than tuition to enroll in the equivalent course. In addition, PLA credit may fulfill pre-requisites and allow the student to enroll in, or advance to, higher-level courses.

    Definitions and Accepted Forms of PLA at L&C

    Lewis and Clark recognizes that some students enroll with knowledge gained through work, participation in employer training programs, service in the military, independent study, volunteer or community service work and open source coursework. The college uses prior learning assessment tools to evaluate that learning and experience for college credit, certification and/or advanced standing toward further postsecondary education and training. There are different types of PLA in use by the college.

    • Advanced Placement (AP) Exams – A series of tests developed by the college board initially for AP High School courses. AP exams give high school students the opportunity to demonstrate knowledge deserving of college credit. L&C offers credit for many AP subjects. Scores from AP examinations should be submitted to the Enrollment Center, Baldwin Hall 1450.
    • American Council on Education (ACE) Guides – Published credit recommendations for formal instructional programs and examinations offered by non-collegiate agencies (including civilian employers, the military, professional associations, and other workplace related training).
    • Military Training – College credit for military training may be awarded through the Joint Services Transcript (JST). All JST transcripts are certified by the American Council on Education (ACE) College Credit Recommendation Service. For JST evaluated credit, students must request and submit to the College an official transcript from JST in order to receive PLA credit, and the training must be evaluated by ACE and included in the ACE Guide.
    • College Level Examination Program (CLEP) Exams – Tests of college material offered by the College Board. The CLEP is a national credit-by-examination program that offers students the opportunity to receive credit for college-level learning. Through CLEP, a student can demonstrate knowledge acquired through on-the-job training, military training, open source coursework or other learning experiences.
    • Defense Activity for Non-Traditional Education Support (DANTES) Subject Standardized Tests (DSSTs) – DSSTs are examinations offered by Prometric through the college’s Assessment Center. While originally restricted to active and retired military personnel, these tests are now available to civilians. The DSST examinations cover material taught in six basic areas: business, sciences, humanities, mathematics, social sciences and education.
    • Evaluation of Local Training – Program coordinator evaluations of non-collegiate instructional programs. This method is used by the coordinators of the Criminal Justice program and the Fire Science program.
    • Institutional Course Proficiency Examination Credit – Lewis and Clark students have the opportunity to earn credit in a number of disciplines through institutionally prepared proficiency examinations. Although not available for all courses, examinations are administered in the Assessment Center and offered at the discretion of the program coordinator.
    • Locally Evaluated Industry and Workplace Credit – The college may individually evaluate non-collegiate instructional programs, such as those for industry certifications, professional licensures, apprenticeships, and other local workplace trainings that demonstrate competency required for completion of a degree or certificate. PLA credit can be awarded based on evaluation of the training or certification by a program coordinator in the student’s program, based on recommendations in the ACE Guide, or as part of a portfolio.
    • Certification: Certification is a designation earned by a person that ensure the individual is qualified to perform a task or job. Certification differs from licensure in that certification is an employment qualification and not a legal requirement for practicing a profession.
    • Professional Licensure: Professional licensure protects and safeguards the public by enforcing standards that restrict practice to individuals who have met specific qualifications in education, work experience, and exams. Licensure is a means by which “permission to practice” is regulated. Licensure is required by law.
    • Portfolio Assessment Credit – A portfolio is prepared by the student to demonstrate and validate credit for learning acquired outside of the classroom and must be relevant to the student’s program of study. Program faculty will use rubrics to evaluate the student portfolio, which will include documentation such as certificates of training, work samples, awards and honors, job descriptions, performance evaluations, samples of artwork, videos of music performances, evidence of self-directed learning, and resumes. The college offers a portfolio course, DST 130-Experiential Learning Assessment.

    Transferability of PLA credit

    Lewis and Clark will accept certain forms of PLA credits transcribed on an incoming college transcript as long as the credits are applicable to the degree or certificate being pursued. The following are types of PLA credit that will be accepted:

    • Institutional Course Proficiency Examination Credit 
    • Portfolio Assessment Credit

    Lewis and Clark will require the official score reports or transcripts from the following in order to accept PLA credit transcribed on an incoming college transcript:

    • Advanced Placement (AP) Exams
    • American Council on Education (ACE) Guides
    • College Level Examination Program (CLEP) Exams
    • Defense Activity for Non-Traditional Education Support (DANTES) Subject Standardized Tests (DSSTs)
    • Joint Services Transcripts (JST)
    • Evaluation of local training will be accepted at the discretion of the program coordinator for the appropriate department.

    Transcription of PLA credit

    PLA credit will appear on the student’s transcript in the following ways:

    • Advanced Placement (AP) Exams will be indicated with a ZA.
    • College Level Examination Program Exams will be indicated with a ZC.
    • Defense Activity for Non-Traditional Education Support (DANTES) Subject Standardized Tests (DSSTs) will be indicated with a ZD.
    • Portfolio assessment, evaluation of local training and credits based on the American Council on Education (ACE) Guides (including civilian employers, professional associations, and other workplace related training) will be indicated with a ZL (Life Experience).
    • Military credited awarded through the Joint Services Transcript will be indicated with a ZM.
    • Institutional Course Proficiency Examination Credit will be indicated with a ZP.