Prior Learning Assessment (PLA)/Awarding Credit for Non-Traditional Learning

Prior learning refers to the knowledge and skills gained through work and life experience; through military training and experience; and through formal and informal education and training from in-state and out-of-state institutions. Prior Learning Assessment, or PLA, is a means of determining whether or not the knowledge, skills and abilities a student has gained through prior learning match the knowledge, skills and abilities a student would gain by completing a specific course. If outcomes of prior learning equal outcomes of a specific course, then credit for this non-traditional learning may be awarded.

The College supports as guidelines the principles of best practices published by Washington State Board for Community and Technical Colleges (CTC), as well as the policies established by the Northwest Commission on Colleges and Universities. The CTC system recognizes four categories of credit for non-traditional learning listed below.

Standardized Testing

Commonly accepted higher education equivalency exams that are documented via transcript or other official record. Examples of such tests are Advanced Placement (AP); College-Level Examination Program (CLEP); DANTES Subject Standardized Tests (DSST); International Baccalaureate (IB); Cambridge “A” Level Exam. The College accepts up to 45 credits earned through standardized testing.


**Credits granted when scores exceed ACE Credit Recommendation**

Exam Title Credit Awarded Course Awarded
Biology 15 Credits Biology& 211, 212, 213
Chemistry 5 Credits Chemistry& 110
Calculus 10 Credits Math& 151, 152
Spanish 15 Credits 50 = 5 Credits; 63 = 10 Credits; 70 = 15 Credits Spanish 121, 122, 123
Humanitites 15 Credits Humanities& 116, 117, 118
Principles of Management 5 Credits Business Administration 189
US History 15 Credits History& 146, 147, 148
World History OR Western Civilization 15 Credits History& 116, 117, 118
Financial Accounting 10 Credits Accounting 201, 202
Human Growth & Development 5 Credits Lifespan Psy& 200
College Composition 5 Credits English Composition& 101
Course Challenge

Challenge exams are sufficiently comprehensive to determine that the student has the same knowledge and skills as those students who enroll in, and successfully complete, the course. A student should have previous training, private study, work experience or other bona fide qualifications indicating she/he has the knowledge or abilities equivalent to course completers. Ordinarily, students will not be allowed to challenge more than one course per quarter.

Extra-Institutional Learning

Knowledge and skills acquired outside the institution and objectively verified through industry certifications, such as the NCLEX-RN; industry recognized testing/training, such as that addressed by the American Council on Education (ACE), particularly for the military; and occupational crosswalks, such as those for police, firefighters, and AmeriCorps.

Prior-Experiential Learning

Knowledge and skills acquired through experience alone, evaluated by qualified faculty via evaluation of a compilation of work. All prior learning assessment credits in this category are awarded through a prior experiential learning portfolio review, as in the HS21+ program. For college-level students, a maximum of 25% of the credits needed for degree or certificate completion may be earned through prior experiential learning assessment. Students planning to transfer should check with the receiving institution on the number of credits earned through PLA that they will accept.

To have non-traditional learning recognized by the College, the student should consult with the Registrar in the Office of Admissions and Records.