ACE today announced a groundbreaking effort to form a next-generation alternative credit system that will boost the ability of nontraditional learners to gain a college degree.
ACE, which has decades of experience issuing credit recommendations for military and corporate training and experiences, will create a pool of about 100 low-cost or no-cost, lower division courses and general education online courses across 20 to 30 subject areas. In turn, 40 colleges and universities will agree to accept transfer credit for these courses, allow students to enroll with up to two years of credit toward a four-year degree, and track their success rates.
Many of the courses in this alternative credit pool will be drawn from existing courses that already had received ACE credit recommendations, while others will be newly created classes that have been assessed as credit worthy. Some will be taught by traditional accredited colleges and universities, while others will come from non-accredited education providers. ACE also will expand its credit recommendation work by developing guidelines for digital credentials, certificate programs and competency-based education programs.
The project is made possible with the assistance of a $1.86 million grant from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation. Its initial focus will be on the more than 31 million adults who have completed some postsecondary coursework but lack a degree or credential; but many of these students represent first-generation, low-income students, so findings from this investment likely will apply to younger students from this population, as well.
"ACE has for many years been a leader in developing quality mechanisms for determining the credit worthiness of education, training and life experiences outside of a formal higher education classroom setting," said ACE President Molly Corbett Broad. "This generous investment will advance that work and promote a more flexible and cost-efficient way for more Americans to earn the high-quality postsecondary degrees and credentials needed in today's global economy."
"This project will serve as an incubator and ecosystem for alternative credit and encourage greater acceptance of such credit by higher education institutions and systems," said Cathy Sandeen, ACE's vice president for education attainment and innovation. "It will help us develop a system that more intentionally connects the various providers and accepters of alternative credit, creating a transparent marketplace where students may find high quality, low cost, lower division online courses with the knowledge that passing them will lead to credit toward a degree or credential."
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