31M

Americans have some college credit but no degree

Source: National Student Clearinghouse

27%

of adults hold nondegree credentials

Source: U.S. Department of Education

1.3M

active-duty service members gaining knowledge & skills daily

Source: Department of Defense

Policy Priorities

Our current educational system fails to measure the achievements of those who learn in multiple settings beyond the classroom—a factor that has a disproportionate impact on adult learners; first-generation students; veterans; and Black, Latinx, and Native American learners. To change that, we encourage states to adopt the following five policy priorities as part of their all learning counts (ALC) policy agenda.

A Statewide Database to Track All Individual Learning

Download Must Haves Checklist

In order to create a system where all learning counts, we must build data systems capable of tracking that learning. Next, we need to be able to analyze that data to understand opportunities to make improvements and fill gaps in the system—especially as it relates to achievement gaps. More comprehensive and better linked data will enable us to provide seamless and equitable educational experiences across learning providers and throughout a lifetime.

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A Statewide Credit Transfer & Articulation System

Download Must Haves Checklist

Currently, too many credit transfer systems exist as a piecemeal web of one-to-one agreements between institutions and educational providers. The result is an overly complex system that creates incredible inefficiencies for learners. Learners often have to “shop around” for institutions that will transfer as many credits as possible into a program that supports their future ambitions. By implementing statewide transfer and articulation agreements, we can create a standardized approach resulting in transparency and ease-of-use for all learners.

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Uniform Recognition of All Learning Towards Credits & Credentials

Download Must Haves Checklist

Most students who seek credit for learning that occurs outside of a college classroom must navigate costly and time-intensive prior learning assessments (PLA) and similar processes that typically result in too few credits being awarded given what they know and are capable of. Frequently, students earn general education credits that do not leave them any closer to a credential in a specific field of study. By improving and creating a uniform system for learning recognition, we can ensure learners get the credit they deserve.

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Clear Pathways to Credentials and Careers that Consider All Learning

Download Must Haves Checklist

When all learning counts, we can build systems that include and build upon past learning to provide clear pathways to postsecondary certificates and degrees. By creating pathways that are transparent, stackable, easy-to-access, and aligned to in-demand careers, we can remove unnecessary barriers to educational attainment and value the unique journey each person takes to achieve their educational and professional goals.

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Policies that Provide Support, Remove Barriers, and Regulate Institutions

Download Must Haves Checklist

Transitioning to a system where all learning counts requires meaningful changes to existing systems. We will need to think differently about where education happens, how it is financed, and the role that nontraditional stakeholders play in creating a new system. In order to support this transformation, states need to provide adequate resources to support this work and proactively remove barriers to success. Additionally, public awareness efforts are critical to building broad support for systemic changes.

Learn More
  • 1. Data

    A Statewide Database to Track All Individual Learning

    Download Must Haves Checklist

    In order to create a system where all learning counts, we must build data systems capable of tracking that learning. Next, we need to be able to analyze that data to understand opportunities to make improvements and fill gaps in the system—especially as it relates to achievement gaps. More comprehensive and better linked data will enable us to provide seamless and equitable educational experiences across learning providers and throughout a lifetime.

    Learn More
  • 2. Credit Transfer

    A Statewide Credit Transfer & Articulation System

    Download Must Haves Checklist

    Currently, too many credit transfer systems exist as a piecemeal web of one-to-one agreements between institutions and educational providers. The result is an overly complex system that creates incredible inefficiencies for learners. Learners often have to “shop around” for institutions that will transfer as many credits as possible into a program that supports their future ambitions. By implementing statewide transfer and articulation agreements, we can create a standardized approach resulting in transparency and ease-of-use for all learners.

    Learn More
  • 3. Learning Recognition

    Uniform Recognition of All Learning Towards Credits & Credentials

    Download Must Haves Checklist

    Most students who seek credit for learning that occurs outside of a college classroom must navigate costly and time-intensive prior learning assessments (PLA) and similar processes that typically result in too few credits being awarded given what they know and are capable of. Frequently, students earn general education credits that do not leave them any closer to a credential in a specific field of study. By improving and creating a uniform system for learning recognition, we can ensure learners get the credit they deserve.

    Learn More
  • 4. Transparent Credential Pathways

    Clear Pathways to Credentials and Careers that Consider All Learning

    Download Must Haves Checklist

    When all learning counts, we can build systems that include and build upon past learning to provide clear pathways to postsecondary certificates and degrees. By creating pathways that are transparent, stackable, easy-to-access, and aligned to in-demand careers, we can remove unnecessary barriers to educational attainment and value the unique journey each person takes to achieve their educational and professional goals.

    Learn More
  • 5. Policy Infrastructure

    Policies that Provide Support, Remove Barriers, and Regulate Institutions

    Download Must Haves Checklist

    Transitioning to a system where all learning counts requires meaningful changes to existing systems. We will need to think differently about where education happens, how it is financed, and the role that nontraditional stakeholders play in creating a new system. In order to support this transformation, states need to provide adequate resources to support this work and proactively remove barriers to success. Additionally, public awareness efforts are critical to building broad support for systemic changes.

    Learn More

Barriers & Solutions

As states move each of the five policy priorities forward they are likely to face a few common barriers to successful implementation that are critical to address from the start. Fortunately, some states and institutions are stepping up to the challenge and creating innovative solutions that can serve as a guide for states looking to do the same.

Financial Incentives

Financial incentives that encourage institutions to recognize out-of-classroom learning are rare. State policies do not often protect institutions from losing tuition dollars for awarding such credit, new work-based programs can be expensive to create, and credits earned through any other means than seat-time are not eligible for federal financial aid. Some states and institutions are stepping up to the challenge by creating innovative incentives to make awarding credit for out-of-classroom learning more appealing to both institutions and students.

Learn More

Stakeholder Awareness

A lack of awareness about the importance of recognizing out-of-classroom learning is a significant barrier to the spread of policy designed to make such recognition a robust element of a state’s postsecondary landscape. State policy makers, industry leaders, and faculty are often unaware of the additional cost and time students incur when taking courses that cover competencies they have already mastered. And students are often unaware that the skills they have mastered through life experiences may count for college credit.

Some states are taking steps to overcome these barriers by clarifying the competencies needed to fill in-demand positions, identifying the best way to recognize competencies mastered, and communicating to students that their skills can be converted to college credit.

Learn More

Cross-Agency Collaboration

In order for all learning to truly count, state agencies such as departments of education, higher education system offices, departments of labor, workforce development councils, departments of corrections, and state agencies involved in licensing have to work collaboratively and in alignment. While no state has aligned all these state agencies behind an ALC agenda, some show promising practices that can be considered essential building blocks for how to design a comprehensive strategy for cross-agency collaboration.

Learn More

Inclusion of Correctional Facilities

Incarcerated individuals often arrive to correctional facilities with some amount of postsecondary learning and may accumulate more while incarcerated. However, this learning often goes unrecognized for college credit. Access to educational records, accurate assessment of learning, restricted access to technology, and the lack of credit bearing courses offered in correctional facilities are all barriers to making All Learning Count. Some states are working to overcome these barriers by providing innovative solutions to improve assessment of out-of-college learning and expand credit bearing courses within the walls.

Learn More
  • 1. Financial Incentives

    Financial Incentives

    Financial incentives that encourage institutions to recognize out-of-classroom learning are rare. State policies do not often protect institutions from losing tuition dollars for awarding such credit, new work-based programs can be expensive to create, and credits earned through any other means than seat-time are not eligible for federal financial aid. Some states and institutions are stepping up to the challenge by creating innovative incentives to make awarding credit for out-of-classroom learning more appealing to both institutions and students.

    Learn More
  • 2. Stakeholder Awareness

    Stakeholder Awareness

    A lack of awareness about the importance of recognizing out-of-classroom learning is a significant barrier to the spread of policy designed to make such recognition a robust element of a state’s postsecondary landscape. State policy makers, industry leaders, and faculty are often unaware of the additional cost and time students incur when taking courses that cover competencies they have already mastered. And students are often unaware that the skills they have mastered through life experiences may count for college credit.

    Some states are taking steps to overcome these barriers by clarifying the competencies needed to fill in-demand positions, identifying the best way to recognize competencies mastered, and communicating to students that their skills can be converted to college credit.

    Learn More
  • 3. Cross-Agency Collaboration

    Cross-Agency Collaboration

    In order for all learning to truly count, state agencies such as departments of education, higher education system offices, departments of labor, workforce development councils, departments of corrections, and state agencies involved in licensing have to work collaboratively and in alignment. While no state has aligned all these state agencies behind an ALC agenda, some show promising practices that can be considered essential building blocks for how to design a comprehensive strategy for cross-agency collaboration.

    Learn More
  • 4. Inclusion of Correctional Facilities

    Inclusion of Correctional Facilities

    Incarcerated individuals often arrive to correctional facilities with some amount of postsecondary learning and may accumulate more while incarcerated. However, this learning often goes unrecognized for college credit. Access to educational records, accurate assessment of learning, restricted access to technology, and the lack of credit bearing courses offered in correctional facilities are all barriers to making All Learning Count. Some states are working to overcome these barriers by providing innovative solutions to improve assessment of out-of-college learning and expand credit bearing courses within the walls.

    Learn More