American Council on Education to use Passport Learning Outcomes as a Workforce Framework

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Interstate Passport Briefing, Transfer News
This is one of 6 articles in the July 2020 newsletter.

The Western Interstate Commission for Higher Education (WICHE) and the American Council on Education announce a collaboration to help more students with prior learning attain high-quality postsecondary credentials. WICHE’s Interstate Passport Network®, with 46 members in 15 states, enables block transfer of completed lower-division general education among participating institutions based on an agreed upon set of learning outcomes. Basing transfer articulation on the 63 Passport Learning Outcomes (PLOs), rather than on matching specific courses and credits, can help reduce credit loss, saving students time and money and increasing their chances of graduating. The discipline specific learning outcomes were developed by multi-state faculty teams convened by WICHE. Now, ACE will also use the PLOs as a framework in evaluating and recommending college credit for training, certifications, and exams offered by hundreds of providers and major employers.

For over 60 years, using an industry standard process, ACE’s faculty panels have evaluated learning that happens outside of the formal college setting and issued recommendations for academic credit. Going forward, ACE will use the PLOs as a framework for evaluating general education, college-level knowledge and skills embedded in some of these extra-institutional learning opportunities. The specific PLOs achieved by a learner will appear on a new digital transcript on Credly’s Acclaim platform, which institutions can use to translate students’ documented knowledge and skills into courses for general education credit. The PLOs provide colleges and universities with more depth as to what ACE transcript holders know and are able to do as they consider credit recommendations. 

“Post-traditional learners face an uphill battle towards their degree goals when institutions are unable to recognize their prior learning. The Passport Learning Outcomes are a great example of a framework that could become the common language for general education to help a wider array of students get the credit they’ve earned for what they know, regardless of where they learned it,” said Louis Soares, ACE chief learning and innovation officer. 

Students who receive credit for prior learning graduate at higher rates, which results in more credits taken from their chosen institutions. This benefit holds true across racial/ethnic populations. Today more than ever, all students need flexible pathways to help them restart their careers, resume interrupted educational journeys, or skill up for new opportunities.

“Interstate Passport is a game changer on many levels with the WICHE/ACE collaboration extending its benefits even further than we had hoped,” said Demaree Michelau, WICHE president. “With the significant economic downturn and impacts of COVID-19 having disproportionate adverse impacts on underserved students and students of color, this collaboration has great potential to not only mitigate some of the negative effects of the pandemic, but we also expect that it will go further and improve outcomes for vulnerable populations.”

The Passport Learning Outcomes can serve as a common language describing knowledge and skill attainment that happens in different contexts, building connections between workforce and academia so that students can move more easily between them without losing ground on the journey.

The Passport Learning Outcomes and ACE digital transcripts were developed with funding from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, the Carnegie Corporation of New York, and Lumina Foundation. For more information, visit ACE’s Learning Evaluation and the WICHE Interstate Passport program.

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