The Case for CACE

Tina Goodyear

Sometimes in higher education common sense and doing the right thing for students supersede competition, policies, and politics (SARA may quickly come to mind). An example, the newly-minted Consortium for the Assessment of College Equivalency (CACE), formed officially in 2015, demonstrates how those sentiments provided the impetus for six adult-focused colleges and universities to pool together their time, talent and resources. These colleges joined together to create a collaborative effort to facilitate the awarding of academic credit for workplace training and industry credentials among and between their institutions.

It started with an idea and two visionary administrators, one from Thomas Edison State University and the other, SUNY Empire State College, both well-established pioneers in the prior learning assessment (PLA) field. They invited colleagues from four sister institutions – Granite State College, Charter Oak State College, the Community College of Vermont, and Excelsior College – to join in their effort. Each an innovator in the recognition of college-level learning from non-collegiate settings, the six founding members of CACE developed – over the course of two years –  an agreement to increase the availability of credit to their students and establish standards for the review and recommendation of credit for workplace training and industry credentials.

woman working at computer with code on screen

© European Union 2013 – European Parliament

Differing from an individual student portfolio assessment for prior learning, the work of the Consortium focuses on the academic credit evaluation or review of structured training programs offered by public or private providers (corporation, municipalities, etc.) and of established industry credentialing or licensure programs (IT, Radiologic Technologist, etc.). Such evaluations result in credit awards accessible to any student/employee who successful completes the course, exam, or program.

Simply put, CACE allows each institution to share with its competitors what is often regarded as proprietary information–academic credit awards and official reports- as a means to better serve students. Members of CACE refer to this ability to offer credit for employer training and industry certification exams through an internal evaluation process as the “secret sauce.” It’s one of the best ways CACE institutions can serve working adult students (and employers), and this benefit may likely have helped to land some CACE members on the recent Forbes Ten Great Colleges for Adults Returning to School list…

Read Goodyear’s entire piece at WCET.

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