ACE announced that Northern Arizona University (NAU) and 24 other
colleges and universities are joining an alternative credit consortium as part
of an innovative initiative to create a more flexible pathway toward a college
degree for millions of nontraditional learners.
As part of the 25 institutions serving in this pilot project,
NAU has agreed to accept all or most of the transfer credit sought by students
who successfully complete courses that are part of a selected pool of about 100
low-cost or no-cost lower division general education online courses. NAU will also
help identify the sources, criteria and quality of the courses.
The participating institutions represent a diverse group of
four-year and two-year, public and private, non-profit and for-profit colleges
and universities that have a strong commitment to access and attainment and
serving nontraditional learners.
All participating institutions, including NAU, have agreed
to provide anonymized data to ACE regarding the amount of credit their
institution accepts, as well as progress and success rates of students
transferring in courses through this project.
This initiative is made possible by the generous support of
a $1.89 million grant from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation. Its initial
focus will be on the more than 31 million adults who have completed some
postsecondary coursework but lack a degree or credential. Many of these
students represent first-generation, low-income students, so findings from this
investment likely will apply also to younger students from this population.
“For NAU, access and attainment are inseparable,” said, Dr.
Fred Hurst, Senior Vice President of Extended Campuses. “We look forward to
working with our ACE colleagues to expand and improve higher education
opportunities for nontraditional learners.”
As an additional part of the effort, ACE will expand its current
work in the area of college credit recommendations by developing a quality
framework and guidelines for issuing recommendations for digital
micro-credentials, non-degree certificate programs, and competency-based
programs like NAU’s Personalized Learning.
“This project will yield multiple and long-lasting benefits
to the participating institutions, the wider higher education community and potentially
millions of nontraditional learners,” said Deborah Seymour, ACE assistant vice
president for education attainment and innovation. “It will help lead to the
greater acceptance of alternative forms of credit in a way that ensures quality
and encourages more people to complete their postsecondary education.”