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Articulation Agreements and Prior Learning Assessments

Articulation Agreements and Prior Learning Assessments

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A brief lays out two tools that can help today's diverse learners complete their college degrees.
A brief lays out two tools that can help today's diverse learners complete their college degrees.

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Published by: Center for American Progress on Jun 02, 2011
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1Center or American Progress | Articulation Agreements and Prior Learning Assessments
Articulation Agreements andPrior Learning Assessments
 Tools to Help 21st Century Students Achieve Their PostsecondaryEducation Goals and Keep America Competitive
June 2011
1
Introduction and summary
Tere is widespread agreemen among employers, workers, and policymakers ha America’s economic compeiiveness in he 21s cenury will very much depend onincreasing our workorce’s educaion and skill levels. We can grealy improve ourchances o achieving his goal i we work on making i easier or oday’s increasingly diverse learners o earn and ranser college credis across insiuions.Te American labor marke is projeced o grow by 14.4 million jobs beween 2008and 2018, according o a sudy by he Georgeown Cener on Educaion and he Workorce. More imporanly, he number o jobs requiring some possecondary educa-ion will grow by 13.9 million during ha ime span—which means ha 97 percen o  job growh will occur in posiions requiring educaion or skills beyond a high schooldiploma. Bu he same sudy esimaes ha our curren educaion and workorce rain-ing sysem will ail o produce hose skilled workers, alling shor by 3 million associae’sor bachelor’s degrees and almos 5 million possecondary credenials.
2
Given his looming shorage o skilled workers we migh expec our policymakers andeducaors o be working ogeher o encourage sudens and workers o earn a possec-ondary degree or credenial. And ye many o our curren policies do he exac opposie.Pu simply, oo many colleges pu up barriers o earning possecondary credis by reusing o recognize any knowledge or learning acquired ouside o heir insiuionalsysem. Te resul is wased ime, eor, and money, along wih los produciviy overhe long erm.Encouragingly, however, some schools are moving orward wih policies ha remove barriers o college compleion. Tis issue brie will discuss he need or reorm and henhighligh wo o he policies currenly being used o help sudens complee heir degrees:
 
2Center or American Progress | Articulation Agreements and Prior Learning Assessments
•
Articulation agreements
ensure ha sudens do no lose possecondary credis sim-ply because hey atend more han one school during heir educaion experience.
•
Prior learning assessments
allow sudens o save valuable ime and money by earn-ing college credi or subjec mater hey’ve already learned.Tese policies are leading he way oward a new ype o consumer-driven educaionsysem, along wih oher imporan innovaions in possecondary educaion. Tis new sysem ocuses on suden oucomes, as opposed o insiuional exclusiviy, and pro-moes beter collaboraion wih sudens o achieve heir educaional aspiraions. Ariculaion agreemens and prior learning assessmens, i implemened more broadly, will lead o more sudens earning possecondary degrees—in less ime and a a lowercos o sudens and axpayers—which will help mee our growing need or high-skilled workers in he knowledge-based economy.
 The problems with credit exclusivity
Colleges and oher possecondary educaion programs spend signican ime andeor each year rying o help more Americans complee degrees and credenials.Unorunaely some o his ime and eor is counerproducive since i’s done insuppor o policies ha promoe redundancy and delay a suden’s progress owardcompleing school.Te average communiy college suden, or example, is orced o amass 140 credis while pursuing a bachelor’s degree even hough only 120 credis are ypically necessary.Tose 20 exra credis represen individual ime, eor, and money. Bu hey also rep-resen public invesmen in he orm o ederal aid o hese sudens and sae subsidieso public colleges.Many people would argue ha an addiional 20 credis per suden is money well spen.In his case, however, i is no necessarily rue. For many sudens hose credis areredundan o credis hey earned a a previous school or else reec knowledge hey acquired ouside he classroom. So he addiional credis do no add o he suden’soverall knowledge and skills.In addiion, he housands o dollars in axpayer subsidies spen o earn hose addiionalcredis are no longer available or oher imporan programs or deci reducion.
 
3Center or American Progress | Articulation Agreements and Prior Learning Assessments
Te problem is ha oo many mainsream possecondary insiuions employ credipolicies ha require mos or all learning relevan o a degree o ake place a heir insiu-ion. I makes i exremely dicul or sudens o ranser learning across insiuions by viewing he ranser o credi or he recogniion o learning ouside he collegeclassroom as a ringe aciviy. Such deerren policies are ofen a misake, and hey ail oserve he ineress o our sudens or our economic compeiiveness.Some wase is undersandable when sudens are changing insiuions and even areas o sudy. Bu i we wan more o our workers o earn degrees and credenials—paricularly sudens coming rom lower-income groups and whose parens did no go o college—hen we need o minimize his wase as much as possible.
 Today’s learner
Our curren sysem o insiuional exclusiviy was designed or radiional 18- o22-year-old ull-ime college sudens ha atended a single school or our years.Bu hose sudens no longer dominae college classrooms.Te Naional Cener or Educaion Saisics repored in 2002 ha as many as hree-quarers o college sudens no longer  he “radiional” classicaion.
3
For insance,many o oday’s sudens are older han “radiional” college sudens, work ull ime,or suppor dependens o heir own. Tey are more mobile han previous generaions,and hey requenly atend muliple insiuions over he course o heir college careers.Tese sudens are ofen ill served by he radiional model o college educaion wheresudens atend he same school rom 18 o 22 years old ull ime.Moreover, many o oday’s learners ener he possecondary sysem wih college-levelknowledge or skills. Tey may, or example, have several years o work experience dur-ing which hey learned hrough on-he-job raining, workshops, company-sponsoredraining, leadership aciviies, or echnical responsibiliies. Tey also may be in he mili-ary, where hey gain a range o oher ypes o learning hrough ormal raining, inormalon-he-job learning, and leadership experience.Furher, aduls have counless opporuniies o learn in heir everyday lives hrough voluneer work, hobbies, and oher sel-direced aciviies. Some o his learning is com-parable o college-level insrucion. We need educaion sysems ha recognize hese realiies and allow sudens o earncredis across insiuions and or dieren ypes o learning.

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