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Office of Sen.

Mike Johnston
Colorado General Assembly | 200 E. Colfax Avenue | Denver, CO 80203 | 303.866.4864

HB 12-1072 Prior Learning Credits in Higher Education Sens. Bacon, King, K. & Reps. Massey, Fields Staff Name: Treana Hickey What the Bill Does: Currently, schools use a Prior Learning Assessment (“PLA”) to evaluate for academic credit the collegelevel knowledge and skills an individual has gained outside the classroom. Common methods of PLAs include the evaluation of student portfolios, formal documentation of corporate and military training, standard credit recommendation guides, standard examinations such as those in advanced placement programs, or customized assessments developed by individual schools. Students are not guaranteed that the experience will be accepted, and there is no common statewide process or credit guide currently in use by state schools. However, many schools, including community colleges, allow students to test out of certain basic requirements through the use of assessments. HB 12-1072 requires that the Colorado Commission on Higher Education (“CCHE”), in consultation with public institutions of higher education, develop criteria for awarding academic credit for a student's prior learning out of a recognition that a student’s college-level learning can take place outside of the classroom. Prior learning could include work experience, military service, community involvement, or independent study. The CCHE must also define a process to assess a student's prior learning and determine the appropriate number of credits to award. Beginning in the 2013-14 academic year, each public institution of higher education would have to implement a program to grant academic credit to a student whose prior learning meets the criteria developed by the CCHE. National Context: California has passed a bill that requires California Community Colleges (CCC), as part of the matriculation process, to assess prior college-level learning gained by military service personnel and veterans through non-college credit means.1 Maryland’s policy provides that an institution may not award more than ½ the number of credits required for graduation through prior learning, and an institution may grant credit for prior learning based on acceptable standardized examination such as the College Level Examination Program.2 Nationally, these are some of the most popular ways that students currently apply for prior learning credits:


California Legislature, AB 372, Assembly Bill, Bill Analysis, available at (last visited, Feb. 23, 2012). 2 Code of Maryland Regulations, “Minimum Requirements for In-State Degree-Granting Institutions,” Maryland Higher Education Commission , 13B.02.02, Oct. 17, 2011.

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One of the most popular ways of earning college credit for prior learning is the College-Level Examination Program. The cost of a CLEP exam is $65, effective July 1, 2007. CLEP exams are free to military service members.3 The DANTES Subject Standardized Tests (DSST) is another program that provides an opportunity to earn college credit for prior learning. Annually, over 90,000 DSSTs are administered to individuals who are interested in continuing their education. Students can choose from 37 test titles.4 For individuals associated with the military, DANTES sponsors a wide range of examination programs. About 150,000 DANTES examinations are administered each year to military personnel.5 Another good information resource is American Council on Education's (ACE) College Credit Recommendation Service (CREDIT). This program connects workplace learning with colleges and universities by helping adults gain access to academic credit for formal courses and examinations taken outside traditional degree programs. Corporations, labor unions, professional associations, schools, training suppliers, and government agencies participate in this added-value service.6

Fiscal Impact: State Revenue  This bill may impact state revenue from tuition. Awarding academic credit for prior learning will allow students to enroll in fewer academic courses at public institutions, thus reducing the amount of tuition revenue those schools might otherwise receive. Conversely, the appeal of having prior learning recognized as academic credit may provide an incentive to some individuals to enroll in higher education, thus increasing tuition revenue.7 State Expenditures  In FY 2012-13, this bill will increase state expenditures by $860,360 and 12.5 FTE in the Department of Higher Education (DHE) and at state institutions of higher education. In FY 2013-14, increased state expenditures are $836,393 and 12.5 FTE. Colorado Commission on Higher Education/ Department of Higher Education: $56,840 and 0.5 FTE in FY 2012-13 and $32,873 and 0.5 FTE in FY 2013-14. o The DHE will have administrative costs to develop statewide criteria and to define a process to assess student prior learning at public institutions.  Institutions of Higher Education: $803,520 and 12.0 FTE in both FY 2012-13 and FY 2013-14. In addition to administrative costs for the DHE, the schools will also have costs to implement the bill. The schools must use faculty staff time to provide consultation to the DHE and to negotiate the final criteria and processes they must follow to implement a PLA program. The combined faculty/administrative effort will equate to 1.0 FTE at each campus of the state's research institutions and four-year baccalaureate/masters institutions. State Appropriations  In FY 2012-13, this bill requires an appropriation of $56,840 and 0.5 FTE General Fund to the Department of Higher Education, and an appropriation of $803,520 General Fund to the College Opportunity Fund for fee-for-service contracts with state institutions of higher education.

College Transfer Net, For Life Experience Credit, at (last visited Feb. 23, 2012). 4 Id. 5 Id. 6 Id. 7 Josh Abram, Fiscal Note: HB 12-1072 (Jan. 23, 2012), pdf.

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