New ACE Network Will Help Students Earn College Credit for Prior Learning
December 03, 2020

​​ACE announced today it will build a network of colleges and universities that will work together to ensure learners can easily transfer ACE credit recommendations for prior learning experience toward completion of a degree or credential.

Supported by a generous grant from the ECMC Foundation, the two-year project will prepare students for the future with portable, digital credentials supported by postsecondary standards while also developing and launching a network of higher education institutions guaranteeing to accept ACE credit recommendations from select providers to support flexible academic completion pathways. Interested students with badges for prior learning will be able to connect to colleges in the network on Credly’s Acclaim platform.

“Students who forge a path towards an educational credential outside of the mainstream are dedicated, hardworking, and motivated, and colleges and universities must be willing to meet them halfway,” said ACE President Ted Mitchell. “Through this project, ACE is moving ahead with the first step toward the revitalization of its credit for prior learning network and re-imagining how to best serve underserved learners.”

Post-traditional learners—adult students who are either over age 25, working full-time, financially independent, or connected with the military—make up close to 60 percent of the undergraduate student population. They are a diverse, mobile group who often bring multiple sources of learning and need to transfer credits into and between institutions of higher education. However, current practices in the transfer and award of credit often undermine access and success for these students.

To strengthen transfer pathways and completion for students with prior learning experience, ACE seeks to expand on the quality and integrity of its Learning Evaluation services to develop a network focused on supporting and awarding credit for prior learning experiences, such as apprenticeships, corporate training, and other forms of education obtained outside of the classroom.

Founding network members will guarantee the acceptance of validated prior learning experiences from interested ACE participating organizations towards a postsecondary credential, relying on the expertise of ACE to assure the quality of learning delivered by those organizations.

The goals for this network include:

  • Increasing application of prior learning credits to post-secondary degree and credential programs to improve persistence and graduation rates.
  • Providing students with practical information about educational pathways that leverage their prior work and academic experience, including outcomes data that learners can use to make informed decisions about their educational investments.
  • Communicating best practices and exchanging information to encourage additional institutions to support post-traditional learners, as well as data to fuel research about the impact of prior learning.
  • Leveraging previous work on prior learning networks and a new digital platform to promote the award of credit for extra-institutional learning and connect students with schools that are ready to serve them.

ACE is uniquely positioned to create a system that recognizes and validates learning to facilitate students’ ability to earn a credential or degree. For more than 60 years, ACE has supported both post-traditional learners and the higher education institutions that serve them. ACE’s Military Training Evaluations Program validates courses and training for all branches of the military, while ACE Learning Evaluations evaluates workplace learning for employees to obtain college credit towards a degree or other postsecondary education credential.

“Under the leadership of ACE, we feel confident that this initiative will catalyze a h​igh-impact movement inspiring colleges and universities to accept prior learning experiences for post-traditional learners and support flexible academic completion pathways,” said Saúl Valdez, program officer at ECMC Foundation. “This investment underscores the importance of better coordination and connections among students and families, employers and providers, and campus leaders alike.”​

For more information about the network, email LE@acenet.edu​

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Audrey Hamilton
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