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Prior Learning Assessment

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Prior Learning Assessment 2023-11-30T10:48:51+00:00

Prior Learning Assessment

Students Walking

Prior Learning Assessment (PLA) is the process for awarding credit for learning that has taken place away from the college classroom.

Credit can only be awarded for classes offered by Highline College.

With faculty approval and guidance, students will demonstrate their competence in class content.

Faculty will assist you in determining the best way to demonstrate your learning experience.

Military and veterans can receive college credit for military training. Follow the link to see how, or contact the PLA Coordinator to help facilitate the process.

Information for Students

If you have a certificate or training from a specific industry, you may be able to get PLA automatically. See Credit for Professional Training below.

The process for PLA is:

  1. Are you a current Highline College student? If yes, proceed to step #2. If not, let’s get started by applying to Highline. 
    • Apply to Highline: If you have never attended Highline College, your first step is to complete our online application. If you are only seeking PLA credits, please select “Non Award Seeking” as your Program of Study. Once your application has been processed, we will send your acceptance letter by email.
    • Activate Student Accounts:
      • Your ctcLink account is used to enroll and pay for classes, manage financial aid, access student records, etc. Once you have received your ctcLink ID number in your admission letter, you can activate your account. If you have a ctcLink account from another community college in Washington, you may use the same number.
      • Your myHighline account provides access to online resources and tools, such as student email, Canvas, and Google. The ITS Department will send you an email with instructions on how to activate your account.
  2. Determine if PLA is appropriate. The student and instructor will determine if PLA is appropriate. (Meet with an instructor from the appropriate department)
  3. PLA Contract: If appropriate, the instructor and student make a contract. (Meet with an advisor if you don’t know which class is needed for your program.)
  4. Assessments: Student completes the assessment for the instructor (i.e. completes whatever assessment they have agreed to—test, essay, portfolio, etc.).
  5. Assessments Graded: Instructor grades assessment, and sends grade to PLA Coordinator.
  6. PLA Request Form: Student completes PLA Request Form.
  7. Confirmation Email: Students will receive a confirmation email with instructions to pay through ctcLink.
  8. Pay for Credits: Charges will appear on the student’s ctcLink Account ($40 per credit or class).
  9. Credits appear on Student Record: After fees are paid, the credits will appear on your record within two weeks.

A student does not need to register for a regular class if they are completing PLA.

TierCategory Description Fee
1Transfer credit from other accredited higher education institutions, Joint Service Transcripts for military training, or nationally recognized exams such as AP, IB, CLEP, Cambridge.
Degree or certificate requirement fulfillment is noted through the regular credentials evaluation process
2Certifications and Institutionally Recognized Equivalency
Industry certifications, occupational crosswalks, institutionally-approved tests such as STAMPS. Credits are awarded and transcripted by Highline College based on documented earned certifications or standardized test results.
$40 / class
3Course Outcomes Assessment

Course challenges based on established competency assessments or portfolio review by Highline faculty. Credits and grades are awarded and transcripted during the regular quarterly reporting of grades.
$40 / Credit

Language Credit

The STAMP (Standards-based Measurement of Proficiency) test is an online assessment of reading, writing, speaking, and listening skills in a variety of languages. Highline currently offers STAMP tests for the following languages: Arabic, Chinese (Traditional and Mandarin), French, Japanese, and Spanish.

Based on the proficiency level you demonstrate, you may be able to earn between 5-10 college credits in the language that you have tested.  Visit the Placement and Testing Center for STAMP testing times and details.

  • After receiving your test results, complete the PLA Request Form and upload your test results. Be sure to mention if you want credit for one or two classes.
  • The PLA fee is $40 per class.

Credit for Professional Training

The following professional trainings have been evaluated and qualify the student for college credits.

Complete the PLA Request Form and upload your certificates and documents. Once your request is received, you will then receive an email confirmation to let you know that you were approved and how to provide payment. Once payment has been confirmed, the approved credits/courses will be applied to your student record within the quarter you are requesting the credits.

CertificationCourse NumberCourse TitleCreditsFee
Customer Service OperationsHOST 165Customer Service Operations5$40
Unidos at Work Certificate, El Centro de la RazaBUSN 216
BUSN 218
1. Business Computer Applications
2. Spreadsheet Construction
Home Care Aid CertificationHEAL 100Fundamentals of Caregiving5$40
Medical Assistant-Registered Plus MA-R to MA-C Pathways Class11 HEAL (Medical Assistant) Classes11 Medical Assisting classes to meet DOH requirement of 720 clock hours.46$40 per course
Basic Law Enforcement Academy (BLEA)4 of the following 5 credit classes:
1. CJ 212
2. CJ 213
3. CJ 215
4. CJ& 110
5. CJ& 240
1. Fundamentals of Policing
2. Arrest Search & Seizure
3. Conflict Management
4. Criminal Law
5. Intro to Forensic Science
FEMA Emergency Management Institute Courses

ICS-100, ICS-200, ICS-300, IS-700 and IS-800
HSEM 110

Basic Incident Command System/NIMS2$40
Military Police CertificateChoose 4 of the following 5 credit classes:
1. CJ 212
2. CJ 213
3. CJ 215
4. CJ 217
5. CJ& 240
1. Fundamentals of Policing
2. Laws of Arrest Search/Seizure
3. Conflict Management
4. Communications
5. Intro to Forensic Science
Federal Basic Corrections Academy (FBCA)1. ADMJ 105
2. CJ 215
1. Community Relations
2. Conflict Management
WA State Basic Correctional Officer Academy (WSBCOA)1. ADMJ 105
2. CJ 215
1. Community Relations
2. Conflict Management
Child Development Associate (CDA)ECED& 100
ECED& 107
ECED& 120
Child Care Basics Health Safety Nutrition

Paraeducator Certificate (Professional Educator Standards Board)

EDUC& 101ParaEducator Basics3$40
A+ CertificateCIS 150OS and Hardware Fundamentals 5$40
Security+ CertificateCIS 166Network Intrusion Detection5$40
CCNA (Cisco Certified Network Associate)CIS 160
CIS 161
CIS 262
CIS 265
1. Introduction to Networking and Cisco IOW
2. MS Operating System and Cisco Networking Integration 3. MS OS Infrastructure and Advanced Cisco
4. WAN Tech & VPN Security
CompTIA Linux+Powered by LPI ExamsCIS 217UNIX/Linux System Administration5$40
Adult Critical Care Specialty (ACCS)RC 403Advanced Adult Critical Care5$40
Neonatal Pediatric Specialty (NPS)RC 405Advanced Neonatal-Pediatric Respiratory5$40
Certified or Registered Pulmonary Function Testing (CPFT/RPFT)RC 407Cardiopulmonary Diagnostics and Rehabilitation4$40
Current 40-hour First Aid/CPR/AED certification plus proof of professional experience directly utilizing life-saving skills, such as first responder or firefighterPE 160First Aid, CPR & AED3$40
MOS - OutlookBSTEC 160Microsoft Outlook2$40
MOS - WordBSTEC 150Microsoft Word2$40
MOS - PowerPointBSTEC 155Microsoft PowerPoint3$40
MOS - ExcelBSTEC 165Microsoft Excel5$40
Community Health Worker Fundamentals certificate plus documented evidence of three months of experience providing care navigation in the healthcare and human services systems. HEAL 251MA Patient Navigator5$40

Military and veterans can receive college credit for military training.
Highline College evaluates every military transcript received from the service member and/or veteran pursuing an education at Highline. Contact the Veterans Services for assistance in the process.

Students should be aware of the following policies.

  • PLA credits can only be awarded for classes that Highline offers.
  • Approval for PLA and grading is determined by the faculty.
  • Being approved for PLA (contract signed and assessment paid for) does not guarantee that you will receive a passing grade.
  • It is important to submit all assessments and documentation to your instructor prior to the deadline, which is usually the end of the quarter.
  • No more than 25% of any degree can come from portfolio-style PLA. For a 90 credit degree, that is 22 credits.
  • No more than 15 credits of portfolio-style PLA can transfer to universities in Washington.
  • Most universities in Washington have indicated that they will accept PLA classes, especially when it is part of an AA degree. No college said they would not accept PLA. You may wish to confirm with the registrar at the 4-year institution that you are planning on transferring to.
  • For transfer, you must confirm with the registrar of the school you’re transferring to.
  • Highline College evaluates every military transcript received from the service member and/or veteran pursuing an education at Highline. Contact Veterans Services for assistance in the process.

Information for Faculty

In order to earn credit for a class under PLA, a student must demonstrate competency with the established student learning outcomes for that class. Some coaching on expectations and interpretation of outcomes should be expected.

The following steps should be followed in awarding credit through PLA.

  • Determine if the student is a good candidate for PLA. This decision will largely be based on an email summary and/or brief interview. Please do not advance the student if there are significant concerns about the student’s ability to successfully demonstrate achievement of course outcomes.
  • Help students select the correct courses for PLA.
  • Determine which assessments are appropriate. Indicate on the contract exactly what the student needs to submit to be assessed and a due date. PLA Contract
  • Please only sign a PLA contract if you really think the student is capable of receiving a passing grade. Once they pay they cannot receive a refund.
  • NEW: Student or instructor complete the PLA Request Form only after the contract is completed and there is a grade.
  • Instructor emails PLA grade to PLA Coordinator when assessment is complete.
  • There is no deadline for processing PLA. PLA can be processed when the assessment is complete and the grade is sent to the PLA Coordinator.
  • Why PLA? Read national research about on completion and PLA.
  • For information about stipend amounts please contact the PLA coordinator.
  • Students can then be directed to Complete the PLA Request Form and upload the contract.

PLA staff with take care of enrollment. View the PLA Contract.

NWCCU 2020 Standards

Northwest Commission on Colleges and Universities has the following Prior Learning Assessment guidelines:

Standard One – Student Success, and Institutional Mission and Effectiveness

1.C.8 Transfer credit and credit for prior learning is accepted according to clearly defined, widely published, and easily accessible policies that provide adequate safeguards to ensure academic quality. In accepting transfer credit, the receiving institution ensures that such credit accepted is appropriate for its programs and comparable in nature, content, academic rigor, and quality.

Faculty may assess student learning in any way that they deem appropriate, ensuring that assessment is transparent.
The assessment does not in any way need to be similar to the classroom experience as long as it accurately assesses student learning. This is a good opportunity to review student learning outcomes and explore authentic assessment.

Assessment may include, but are not limited to:

  • Interview
  • Exam
  • Essay
  • Demonstration
  • Portfolio
  • Documentation of previous experience/training
  • A reflection on previous experience as relevant to PLA

Contact Information

Vicky Montgomery

Email: Send a Message

Phone: (206) 592-3133

Location: Campus View, Room 202

Download Campus Map

PLA Request Form

PLA Contract

Mailing address:
Highline College
Vicky Montgomery
Prior Learning Assessment
P.O. Box 98000 M/CV 202
Des Moines, WA 98198-9800