Prior Learning Assessments for High School and College

I added a new resource to the Homeschooling Teens page that I think could be useful not just for those seeking college admission information for unschoolers, but also for high school: prior learning assessments. Most of the resources are for adults who want to get credentials for applying to college based on their work experiences. There have always been a few places like this, such as Thomas Edison State College, located on the Unschooling Teenagers page of this site. But it is nice to see so many PLA providers located in one place.

What prior learning assessments do are evaluate and award credit based on a student's experiences and knowledge developed through "careers, employer training programs, military service, independent study or community service." The PLA page notes:

There are four ways students can take advantage of PLAs:

  1. Students may submit a portfolio that demonstrates credit-worthy mastery of a subject and submit to the CAEL

  2. Take a subject-specific examination from CLEP, DSST, or through the Advanced Placement or International Baccalaureate programs.

  3. Attend colleges that offer credits for course substitutions

  4. Apply for non-standard learning credits from the American Council on Education (ACE), an umbrella organization that reviews courses for their educational standards

At the end of the page is some information about getting PLAs for high school students, which, as unschooling keeps growing, may some day provide valuable alternatives for teenagers who find the standard high school curriculum too stifling. (And why don’t elementary school students get PLAs? How many show up in first grade already knowing how to count and read? But that's another blog post!) Here’s the introduction to the high school section for PLAs:

In addition to the programs noted above, some programs are targeted specifically toward high schoolers. These students may be homeschooled or just gifted students in traditional high schools ready for more rigorous study. Most colleges accept some form of proficiency examination credits, though how much credit is granted in exchange for these proficiencies will vary. Check the PLA policy of prospective colleges before committing to a degree program.

Some states have reimbursement programs in place for academically advanced high school students. These students may take college courses for credit while still in high school. Class credit is awarded at both the collegiate and high school level. In addition, qualifying students may opt out of typical tuition costs associated with the classes they take, though they may be responsible for books and other college fees.