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 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.

Advanced Placement
**Credits earned for AP scores of 3, 4, or 5**
Exam TitleCredit AwardedCourse Awarded
Art History15 credits (HUM)Art 127, 128, 129
Biology15 credits (SCI)Biology 211, 212, 213
Calculus AB5 credits (QS)Math 151
Calculus BC10 credits (QS)Math 151, 152
Chemistry5 credits (SCI)Chemistry 110
English Lang & Comp5 credits (COM)English 101
English Literature & Comp10 credits (COM)English 101, 111
Government & Politics: Comparative5 credits (SS)Political Sci 202
Government & Politics: US5 credits (SS)Political Sci 202
Humanities15 credits (HUM)Humanities 116, 117, 118
Physics B15 credits (SCI)Physics 114, 115, 116
Psychology5 credits (SS)Psychology 100
Statistics5 credits (QS)Math 201
History: US15 credits (SS)History 146, 147, 148
History: World or Western Civ.10 credits (SS)History 116, 117
History: European10 credits (SS)History 116, 117
Art 2D Design5 credits
Art 3D Design5 credits
Art Studio: Drawing5 credits
Computer Science A5 credits
Computer Science AB5 credits
Economics/Macroeconomics5 credits (SS)Economics 202
Economics/Microeconomics5 credits
Environmental Science5 credits (SCI)Biology 130
Chinese Language & Culture5 credits
French Language & Culture5 credits
Italian Language5 credits
Spanish Language15 credits (HUM)Spanish 121, 122, 123
Spanish Literature5 credits
German Language5 credits
Latin: Virgil5 credits
Japanese Language5 credits
Music Theory5 credits
Human Geography5 credits
Physics C: Mechanics5 credits
Physics C: Electricity & Magnetism5 credits
**Credits granted when scores exceed ACE Credit Recommendation**
Exam TitleCredit AwardedCourses Awarded
Biology15 CreditsBiology& 211, 212, 213
Chemistry5 CreditsChemistry& 110
Calculus10 CreditsMath& 151, 152
Spanish15 Credits50 = 5 Credits; 63 = 10 Credits; 70 = 15 CreditsSpanish 121, 122, 123
Humanitites15 CreditsHumanities& 116, 117, 118
Principles of Management5 CreditsBusiness Administration 189
US History15 CreditsHistory& 146, 147, 148
World History OR Western Civilization15 CreditsHistory& 116, 117, 118
Financial Accounting10 CreditsAccounting 201, 202
Human Growth & Development5 CreditsLifespan Psy& 200
College Composition5 CreditsEnglish 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.