For Immediate Release
Media Contact: Danielle Gross
P: (717)232-7584 C: (717)418-9001
February 2, 2015
Pennsylvania Community Colleges Launch Statewide PLA Initiative
Allows non-traditional students to gain college credit for knowledge, work experiences
HARRISBURG— Pennsylvania’s 14 community colleges are announcing the launch of a statewide Prior Learning Assessment (PLA), called College Credit FastTrack. College Credit FastTrack allows PA’s 14 community colleges to award adult learners credit for learning through training and work experiences – and establishes common standards for earning these credits across the state. All of PA’s 14 community colleges are participating, and this is the first statewide PLA initiative that encompasses every college in a given sector.
PLA is the process used by many institutions to determine if an individual’s prior educational, workforce and life experiences can be translated to college credits. Students who are granted PLA credits have better academic outcomes, better degree completion, better persistence, and shorter time to completion than non-PLA students.
“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.”
College Credit FastTrack (ccfasttrack.org) is a new website and e-portfolio platform which provides a single point of entry for adult learners in Pennsylvania to access prior learning credits at all of our community colleges. Students will be shepherded through the process by connecting with a PLA advisor at one of the colleges through the site and developing and submitting a portfolio for review for college credits. Then the portfolio is evaluated by college faculty to determine which credits will be awarded.
Current community colleges have already been engaging in PLA processes at their campuses with great success. Anthony Caso, a forty-two year old single father, has been awarded 27 credits towards his associate’s degree in criminal justice at Montgomery County Community College, which will cut his time to degree completion nearly in half. With College Credit FastTrack in place, it is anticipated that more Pennsylvania students will gain PLA credits than ever before.
Headed by lead institution Montgomery County Community College, College Credit FastTrack was made possible by a $2.5 million Trade Adjustment Assistance Community College and Career Training (TAACCCT) grant from the U.S. Department of Labor.
Note: A prior version of this release noted that this PLA was the first statewide PLA initiative in the US. This version has been modified to note that this is the first statewide PLA including all of the colleges in a given sector.
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 www.pacommunitycolleges.org.