SOURCE: Council for Adult and Experiential Learning

Clark Communications

July 10, 2013 07:37 ET

National Education Leader Testifies Before Congress

CAEL's Pamela Tate Calls on Congress to Develop Federal Financial Policies That Support Prior Learning Assessment

CHICAGO, IL--(Marketwired - July 10, 2013) -  Pamela J. Tate, President and Chief Executive Officer of the Council for Adult and Experiential Learning (CAEL), was one of four witnesses before the Education and Workforce Committee of the U.S. House of Representatives who participated in the "Keeping College Within Reach: Improving Higher Education through Innovation," hearing, CAEL Senior Director, Marketing and Communications, Beth Doyle, announced today. 

Tate was asked to appear at the hearing to discuss prior learning assessment, also known as PLA. PLA is the process by which an individual's experiential and other extra-institutional learning is assessed and evaluated for the purposes of granting college credit, certification, or advanced standing toward further education or training. 

Said Tate, "The importance of a college degree for employment is increasing. At the same time, costs are rising. Prior learning assessment offers the adult learner the chance to gain credit toward a degree while saving time and money. The Council for Adult and Experiential Learning urges Congress to allow federal grants and aids to fund PLA programs that meet quality standards."

According to Tate, PLA methods have been used in U.S. colleges and universities for more than 40 years. While PLA itself is not a new innovation, it is a tool that is growing in importance as other innovations in higher education have emerged.

"As a supporter and promoter of PLA since 1974, CAEL has seen dramatic growth in the interest in PLA in recent years -- from individual institutions, state systems, employers and federal leaders," said Tate. "Yet PLA is still not available and accessible to all students, even though it should be part of every program of study for any student who has college-level learning acquired outside of traditional academia. We need two changes: infrastructure to provide PLA at scale, and federal and state policies -- particularly federal financial aid policies -- that support PLA."

Concluded Tate, "I respectfully ask that this committee recommend to the Department of Education the establishment of an experimental site for PLA in order that we might learn how best to structure financial aid coverage of PLA. Seeing financial aid coverage for PLA in the reauthorization of Higher Education Act would have powerful impact on our country's ability to build a strong, educated and credentialed workforce."

At the conclusion of the hearing, Chairman John Kline (R-MN) thanked the panel of witnesses which he characterized as an "All-Star" group of experts. Ranking Member George Miller (D-CA) similarly expressed his admiration and gratitude to all, including Tate.

The Council for Adult and Experiential Learning (CAEL) is a nonprofit 501(c) (3) organization based in Chicago, Illinois that assists adults with their educational endeavors, finding practical ways to transfer prior professional experiences and skills learned outside the classroom to college course credit and the completion of a postsecondary degree. CAEL works with the public sector, private sector industries and higher education institutions to ensure that adult students receive the most efficient training and education to occupy a meaningful professional place in a 21stcentury economy. Since 1974, CAEL has assisted colleges and universities in providing college credit for prior learning. CAEL is the recognized national expert on a method known as portfolio assessment, and their Ten Standards for Assessing Learning are used by colleges and universities, as well as accrediting organizations, across the country.


Written Statement:

Oral Testimony:

An archived recording of the hearing:

The following files are available for download:

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