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PA Community Colleges Launch Statewide PLA Solution

Posted on 2/13/2015 by AcademyOne  

With new technology from AcademyOne, the Pennsylvania Commission for Community Colleges launched a statewide Prior Learning Assessment (PLA) solution, called College Credit FastTrack. Launching College Credit FastTrack will expand the opportunities for nontraditional learners in Pennsylvania’s community colleges to earn credit for learning gained through other training and work experiences in order to accelerate their time to degree completion in an affordable manner.

College Credit FastTrack allows Pennsylvania’s 14 community colleges to not only provide students the opportunity to earn credit for their prior learning, but it also establishes a common framework for recognizing and awarding prior learning credit in a consistent manner across the state. “The state’s 14 community colleges all previously offered PLA credits in some form or another, but the details varied widely,” said Danielle Gross, spokeswoman for the Pennsylvania Commission for Community Colleges. “College Credit FastTrack fixes that, setting a common standard and a single procedure for PLA credit awards at all 14 colleges.”

With College Credit FastTrack, Pennsylvania’s nontraditional learners who may have lost their job, are looking to switch careers, or maybe are transitioning from military to civilian life, have access to a dedicated PLA portal that offers a single point of entry to all of the community colleges in the state. Students are guided through the application process and connected with a PLA advisor from one of the colleges. Once an application has been approved, students are led through the creation and submission of their e-portfolio to demonstrate their knowledge and expertise. A college assessor is then assigned to conduct an evaluation of the e-portfolio and make a recommendation on the student’s eligibility for PLA credit.

“Some postsecondary education is as necessary now as a high school degree was in previous generations, and many adults want to gain a degree and gain re-employment with as little time in the classroom as possible,” says Dr. Nicholas Neupauer, president of Butler County Community College and board chair of the Pennsylvania Commission for Community Colleges. “College Credit FastTrack will enable these students to complete a life-changing degree program more quickly and at a reduced cost.”

Dr. Kathrine Swanson, vice president for Student Affairs and Enrollment Management at Montgomery County Community College, said students have already applied. In one example, a 42-year-old single father received 27 college credits using his experience and training as a police officer, cutting his time to associate degree completion nearly in half. “What we’re assessing is learning outcomes that have already been met and those vary greatly from individual to individual depending on their experiences and the training that they might have had. AcademyOne’s solution provides us with the tools we need to recognize and award credit, regardless of how an individual acquired their prior learning,” said Dr. Swanson.

Headed by lead institution Montgomery County Community College, College Credit FastTrack was made possible by a Trade Adjustment Assistance Community College and Career Training (TAACCCT) grant from the U.S. Department of Labor.

Click Here to learn more about the project.

About The Pennsylvania Commission for Community Colleges

The Pennsylvania Commission for Community Colleges is a voluntary membership association for Pennsylvania’s community colleges. Its members include the college presidents, members of the colleges’ boards of trustees, and key college administrators. The Commission represents the interests of and advocates for the collective needs of the community colleges to federal and state policymakers. For more information, please visit

About AcademyOne

AcademyOne is a consulting and software development firm working in the higher education sphere. We deliver industry-leading solutions to states and institutions who wish to improve student retention and degree completion rates, especially among the growing population of nontraditional learners.

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