ACE is providing its quality assurance expertise as part of a collaboration with Northeastern University (MA) and General Electric (GE), which have been selected by the Department of Education (ED) to participate in the department’s Educational Quality through Innovative Partnerships (EQUIP) program.
The department says that EQUIP will allow students—particularly low-income students—access to federal student aid for the first time to enroll in programs offered by nontraditional training providers working, in partnership with colleges and universities. EQUIP falls under the Experimental Sites Initiative, which allows the department to provide statutory and regulatory flexibility for postsecondary institutions and test the effectiveness of those changes.
The Northeastern/GE/ACE collaboration is one of eight EQUIP experimental sites that ED announced Tuesday.
“I appreciate the Department of Education’s decision to select this cutting-edge collaboration as an EQUIP experimental site,” said ACE President Molly Corbett Broad. “We are pleased to join with Northeastern and GE in such an important effort to expand access to higher education and increase the ways nontraditional learners have of gaining postsecondary degrees and credentials.”
Northeastern and GE joined to create and jointly deliver an accelerated bachelor of science in advanced manufacturing that combines the rigorous assessment of GE’s professional and manufacturing employment and on-the-job-training and development and Northeastern’s curricula and experiential learning strategies.
A story about the EQUIP initiative in The Wall Street Journal noted that dozens of GE employees will make up the initial group of students.
Northeastern President Joseph E. Aoun said in a news release that employer partnerships are not new at Northeastern, which has a century-old co-op program with a track record of providing strong outcomes for their graduates.
The new degree program will:
- award university credit for real-world manufacturing expertise, employer-sponsored training, on-the-job accomplishments and development and industry-specific licensure and certification that students may have obtained over the course of their training;
- scaffold, integrate and extend such experiences with Northeastern’s established faculty, course, experiential learning and learner support infrastructure; and
- credential the resulting learning and experience at the level of a bachelor’s degree within three years for all learners.
For its part, ACE will use experienced faculty evaluators, psychometricians and subject-matter experts from the field in its quality assurance work to evaluate the effectiveness of the program in meeting its intended outcomes.
ACE has for decades used subject-matter expert teams to evaluate teaching that takes place outside a formal classroom for credit recommendation, for military experiences and occupations since 1954 and for workplace courses since 1974. Students have successfully used ACE recommendations to earn credit at many institutions; many of these students have done well academically at the more than 2,000 institutions that make it a practice to consider ACE credit recommendations.