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Prior Learning Assessment Program

The Valley City State University Prior Learning Assessment Program encourages adult learners (generally twenty-five years of age or older) to apply learning received from life and work experiences toward a Valley City State University degree of their choice. The program offers an individual an alternate way to enter a college degree program. This type of learning is often referred to as experiential learning or prior learning. The program also provides the non-traditional adult student with information about career planning and portfolio development.

The Prior Learning Assessment Program, administered through the Office of the Vice President for Academic Affairs, is based on principles of good practice developed by the Council for Adult and Experiential Learning. Valley City State University holds an institutional membership in this organization.

Student Participation
  • The student seeking to apply for credit through the Prior Learning Assessment Program registers for Business190, Career Planning and Portfolio Development.
  • Student participation in the Prior Learning Assessment Program is limited to students who hold at least a high school diploma or equivalent and have been out of high school for at least five years.
  • The student who holds a baccalaureate degree from VCSU or from another college or university is also normally excluded from the Prior Learning Assessment Program.
  • Through the Prior Learning Assessment Program, student learners may apply for credit in the following areas: foundation studies, major, minor, related field/cultural studies, and electives. Course work pertaining to the secondary education professional sequence or the elementary education major is not eligible for PLA credit. A student interested in pursuing education degree may contact the Chair of the Division of Education and Psychology regarding the program of study.
  • Students seeking to obtain physical education credit should read the policy statement of the Division of Health and Physical Education written for Prior Learning Assessment Program students which is found in the Student Guide for Career Planning and Portfolio Development.
Portfolio Process
  • The student registers for Business 190, Career Planning and Portfolio Development.
  • The student arranges for credits through the College-Level Education Program (CLEP), challenge tests, transfer, the military, and other sponsored, recognized methods.
  • The student prepares and submits the portfolio for evaluation for experiential credit awards. The time goal for an adult learner to submit a completed portfolio is one year from the end of the quarter that the learner was enrolled in the Career Planning and Portfolio Development class. However, extensions have been granted to students who find time constraints in preparing or submitting a portfolio within the allotted time period.
  • Faculty members evaluate the portfolio and send recommendations to the Vice President for Academic Affairs.
  • The Vice President for Academic Affairs makes a final determination, notifies the student, and instructs the Registrar to grant experiential learning credits.
  • When the student completes a portfolio, an evaluation fee of 1.00 per credit hour is assessed. This fee is payable in two installments. The first half is due when the portfolio is submitted for evaluation and the second half is due before the credits are granted. The fee covers the cost of evaluation and transcription.
  • Beginning in the Fall of 1999, portfolios will need to be put in a digital format by the submitting student for archive purposes before credit is granted.

Faculty members, during the credit request evaluation procedure, may do so one of the following:
  • Approve student credit requests.
  • Conditionally approve student credit requests and require supplemental work.
  • Deny student credit requests.
A faculty member may determine that a student has demonstrated or documented mastery of a portion of the content of a course but not at a level appropriate for approval of credit. In this case, the faculty evaluator may negotiate, with the student, additional work. This may be accomplished through the use of a formal agreement entitled MINI-CONTRACT FOR PORTFOLIO STUDENTS. This form is available in the office of the PLA Coordinator and the Vice President for Academic Affairs.

Faculty members may also, in some instances, assist an individual student in attaining minimum course standards through the use of Special Topics courses. When using Special Topics course numbers 495, 395, 295, and 195 for the Prior Learning Assessment Program, a form entitled SPECIAL TOPICS APPROVAL, PRIOR LEARNING ASSESSMENT PROGRAM should be used. The form must be approved by the instructor, the division chair, and the Vice President for Academic Affairs. This form is available in the offices of the PLA Coordinator and the Vice President for Academic Affairs.

Appeal Procedure

Any student who disagrees with the evaluation of an individual course request may appeal the decision through the following procedure:

Step 1. The initial step to resolve a disagreement of evaluation is to meet with the instructor who evaluated the course request. If the disagreement of evaluation is not resolved at this point, step 2 of the appeal procedures would be initiated.

Step 2. The student should submit in writing to the PLA Coordinator or the Director of Student Academic Services, the nature of the complaint. At this point, a meeting will be scheduled with the PLA Coordinator or the Director of Student Academic Services and the appropriate department head or division chair. If the evaluation disagreement is not resolved to the satisfaction of the student, he or she may appeal to the Vice President for Academic Affairs.

Step 3. The Vice President for Academic Affairs, after consultation with all parties involved, will make a final decision regarding the matter.

Step 4. Appeals of the Vice President for Academic Affairs' decision are directed to the University Hearing and Appeals Board. A request for a hearing by that board may be made by the student and all operations guidelines set forth by the board will be followed.

Sponsored by: Vice President for Academic Affairs
Effective: Fall, 1990
Reviewed: Winter 1996
Revised: December 1998