TG Funds Research on Latino Students’ Experiences with Prior Learning Assessment Council for Adult and Experiential Learning awarded grant

Stefanie Botelho's picture

The Council for Adult and Experiential Learning (CAEL), a national leader in adult education advocacy, has been awarded a grant by Texas-based TG for a research study on the experiences of Latino college students with prior learning assessment (PLA), an evaluation process which measures the collegiate-level learning that adults have received outside of a traditional classroom for college credit.

For the project, CAEL is collaborating with Excelencia in Education, a national leader in the advocacy of Latino student success, and the organization will help inform and support the research, reach out to potential institutional participants and disseminate the findings. In the project, CAEL will work with ten postsecondary institutions that offer PLA services and have a sizable Latino student population. CAEL will analyze each institution’s student record data to understand the PLA experiences of Latino students, and this analysis will be supplemented with information from student interviews and PLA program staff interviews.

“Many adult Latino students possess an abundance of life and work experiences that are worthy of college credit, and we want to uncover more ways that institutions can extend PLA services to these learners,” says CAEL president and CEO Pamela Tate. “We are privileged to be partnering with Excelencia for this study, and we are fortunate to have the assistance of TG in this endeavor.”

The project builds on the research from CAEL’s 2010 study, Fueling the Race to Postsecondary Success, which examined the learning outcomes of adult students utilizing PLA services. The study, among other findings, revealed that Latino students who earned PLA credits achieved bachelor’s degrees at almost eight times the rate of those who did not use PLA. Additionally, Latino students who gained PLA credits completed their degrees in less time. Yet, a smaller proportion of Latino students took advantage of PLA offerings compared with other student populations.

In mid-2014, results from the new study on Latino students will be published in a report for institutions and education advocates, which will help them better understand how Latino students can use and benefit from PLA. The project will also produce a research brief for policy advocates and policy makers.

“Latinos continue to represent the fastest-growing population in the United States, and while more Latinos are earning postsecondary degrees, there is still a lot of room for improvement,” says Deborah Santiago, COO and Vice President for Policy at Excelencia in Education. “By joining forces with CAEL for this study, we hope to bring more awareness to institutions about PLA, and how Latino students can benefit from the availability of PLA resources.”

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 degree. 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 occupy a meaningful professional place in a 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