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Promoting College and Career Success for Our Nation's Heroes

Portfolio Assessment Helps Student Veterans Gain College Credit, Advance in Careers

CHICAGO, IL--(Marketwired - May 23, 2014) - As the nation commemorates our country's heroes, the Council for Adult and Experiential Learning (CAEL) is underscoring the value of portfolio assessment in helping veterans earn college degrees faster and more inexpensively. According to a recent report by CAEL, portfolio assessment can be a uniquely valuable tool for student veterans to get credit for what they learned in the service and advance in their careers, CAEL CEO and President Pamela Tate announced today. CAEL's LearningCounts program translates work experience, including their military service, into college credit, finding practical ways to transfer prior professional experience and skills learned outside the classroom to college course credit to help adults complete their degrees. 

"As we celebrate our nation's heroes this Memorial Day we want to make sure they are aware of prior learning assessment, or PLA, and how it can help them succeed in postsecondary education. With PLAs like our LearningCounts program veterans can get college credit for learning and experiences they gleaned while they were serving our country, saving them both time and money," said Tate.

PLA is a process that includes a formal review of an individual's learning outside of the traditional classroom in order to award the individual college-level credit, advanced program standing, or other formal recognition of his or her learning. Portfolio assessment is an especially useful Prior Learning Assessment method for veterans who find that credit recommendations and standardized exams do not adequately capture all of their college-level learning.

CAEL's LearningCounts program evaluates learning experiences including employment, military service, volunteer activities or participation in massive online open courses (MOOCs) which is then documented and assessed in a learning portfolio. The LearningCounts credit recommendations are accepted by many colleges and universities that respect the history and learning of adult students and find them the most reasonable path to earning a college degree. 

Veterans face challenges after leaving their branch of service, and according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics some 684,000 veterans are currently unemployed. In addition, in many cases college-level learning while in the military is not always recognized for college credit, especially if it is not part of formal training. Veterans need to find practical ways to transfer their prior professional experience and skills learned outside the classroom or training program to college course credit to help them complete their degrees. 

Tate noted that there are several approaches to utilizing "prior learning assessment" to earn college credit, but that learning portfolios offered by CAEL, through its LearningCounts program, are based on course objectives and subject matter expertise.

Tate also recounted the experience of one Navy veteran who earned credits for eight courses -- a total of 24 credits -- towards a bachelor's degree in Industrial Manufacturing Engineering. His portfolio was based in part on learning gained as Safety Observer aboard the USS Theodore Roosevelt.

Concluded Tate, "We are thrilled to have this opportunity to help members of the military take advantage of new avenues that help them earn their degree more easily and inexpensively. For 40 years CAEL has focused exclusively on the needs of adult learners. is a wonderful system that addresses their needs, and we urge everyone, especially veterans, to take advantage of this program that can easily put adults on the path toward finishing their degrees."

The Council for Adult and Experiential Learning (CAEL) is a nonprofit 501(c)(3) organization based in Chicago, Illinois that assists adults with their educational endeavors, finding practical ways to help them earn college credit for learning acquired through life and work experiences toward the completion of a postsecondary credential. CAEL works with the public sector, private sector industries, and higher education institutions to ensure that adult students receive the most efficient training and education to be employable in the 21st century economy. Since 1974, CAEL has assisted colleges and universities to develop programs that evaluate adults' non-collegiate learning for college credit. CAEL is the recognized national expert on a method known as portfolio assessment, and its Ten Standards for Assessing Learning are used by colleges and universities, as well as accrediting organizations, across the country. More information is available at Follow CAEL on Twitter at or like us on Facebook at is managed by the Council for Adult and Experiential Learning (CAEL), and operates with support from Lumina Foundation, the Kresge Foundation, the Joyce Foundation, the State Street Foundation, the Houston Endowment, USA Funds, and Brown Foundation. The Walmart Foundation is also providing support and funding scholarships for eligible users of

Council for Adult and Experiential Learning
Jackie Clark

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