Prior Learning Assessment (PLA)


  • Prior learning refers to the knowledge and skills gained through work and life experience; through military training and experience; and through formal and informal education and training from in-state and out-of state institutions including foreign institutions.
  • Prior Learning Assessment, or PLA, is a means of determining whether or not the knowledge, skills and abilities a student has gained through prior learning match the knowledge, skills and abilities a student would gain by completing a specific course. If outcomes of prior learning equal outcomes of a specific course, then credit may be awarded.
  • Prior learning can be assessed using a variety of methods, including course challenge; standardized tests; credits earned through the American Council of Education?s Guide to the Evaluation of Educational Experiences in the Armed Services(ACE); the systematic observation of skill demonstrations, including role plays and simulations; and the evaluation of case studies or other assignments. Credit can only be granted for college-level learning which can be demonstrated and documented.  
  • The College supports as guidelines the principles of best practices published by the Washington State Community and Technical Colleges, as well as the policies established by the Northwest Commission on Colleges and Universities. If a student wishes to investigate the possibility to have prior learning recognized by the College, the student should first consult with the Registrar in the Office of Admissions and Records, who will direct them to the appropriate department expert. Please call 509-527-4282.