July 25, 2007

Jennifer Tanner
Communications Specialist

Austin Vannoy Student Intern

VSU Introduces Prior Learning Assessment Program

VALDOSTA - Valdosta State University will work with the University System of Georgia Board of Regents to offer a pilot program, Prior Learning Assessment, this fall for students who have prior experience in their field of study and are interested in testing out of designated courses to earn class credit.

The program is decided to increase the number and diversity of second career teacher candidates and accelerated time to completion. Through PLA, students identify areas of relevant learning from their past experiences, demonstrate that learning through documentation and submit materials for assessment and the possible award of academic credit.

The new program will give students with significant prior experience six different avenues to earn exemption or course credit including the College-Level Examination Program (CLEP), the Advanced Placement (AP), the Defense Activity for Non-Traditional Educational Support (DANTES Testing), ACE Credits, Departmental Examinations and the Prior Learning Documentation Course (PLA 2000). While the first five options listed have already been in place at VSU, the final option is the key component of the new pilot program.

PLA 2000 designed to allow non-traditional students, as well as those students with experience outside the traditional classroom the opportunity to demonstrate knowledge through examination as well as the creation and presentation of a portfolio displaying work. The semester-long course will guide students through the documentation process.

“The goal of the PLA 2000 course is to enable students, who do believe that they have prior learning experience, to put that learning in documentation for faculty advisors to assess and determine if they can be awarded credit,” Dr. Sharon Gravett, assistant vice president for Academic Affairs, said.

Courses currently available for students are MATH 3190, MATH 3180, SCI 3101, SCI 3102, SCI 3103, MSED 7003 and MSED 7005. Middle-Grades Education and Masters of Arts in Teaching are currently identified as programs that offer students the option of earning PLA credit. Other degree programs are up for consideration, and students are encouraged to ask their faculty advisors if there are courses within their major that may allow credit through the PLA.

The Prior Learning Assessment program creation was funded by the Transition to Teaching grant and was cooperatively developed by faculty members from the College of Arts and Sciences and the Dewar College of Education. A PLA Working Group composed of members of both colleges was charged with developing the project. Important guidance was provided by Dr. Patricia Patterson, executive director of Teacher Quality Initiatives, University System of Georgia, and consultants, Dr. Morry Fiddler and Dr. Catherine Marineau of DePaul University.

Dr. Beverley Richardson Blake, PLA counselor, will provide instruction for the PLA 2000 course. Contact her at (229) 245-4378 or brblake@valdosta.edu for more information.

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