Prior Learning Assessment Expansion Initiative

Prior Learning Assessment (PLA)

PLA is the evaluation of college-level learning outcomes that an individual attained outside of the university classroom. Examples include industry-based training, professional development courses, private study, and work or volunteer experiences. Universities evaluate and award credit for student prior learning using a number of methods. Examples include, but are not limited to:

  • Standardized examinations (e.g. Advanced Placement, CLEP, DSST, International Baccalaureate, etc.)
  • Military or corporate training equivalencies (e.g. ACE recommendations)
  • Departmental Exams
  • Student Portfolio

The University of Wisconsin System Prior Learning Expansion Initiative will contribute to System’s Growth Agenda - More Graduates initiative by expanding Prior Learning Assessment (PLA) opportunities available to returning non-traditional adult students.  Expansion of PLA opportunities will increase PLA credits awarded at UW System institutions that, in turn, will contribute to an increase of non-traditional adult student enrollment, retention and completion.

Project activities implemented through two systemwide committees will coordinate prior learning assessment practices and policies across institutions in ways that will ease transferability. The project will also engage 9-12 institutions to pilot new or expanded PLA programs. Through institutional and systemwide activities, the project will improve public awareness of PLA through outreach efforts to business and industry, returning service veterans, and adults who previously attended a UW institution but departed prior to completing their degree.

Project Goals

  • Establish PLA policies that support system-wide PLA implementation at UW institutions;
  • Increase the number of returning adult students who participate in PLA by at least 10% by 2015;
  • Accelerate adult student progress toward degree completion;
  • Hold down cost of degree completion.

The UW System Prior Learning Expansion Initiative is made possible through the support of Lumina Foundation for Education, and in cooperation with the Adult College Completion Network.