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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
Copyright:Attribution Non-commercial


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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
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.
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.
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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