Number: INST 190
Effective: June 6, 2018
Department: Instruction
Last Revision: April 1, 2020


To establish authority and responsibilities of the College in awarding credit for Prior Learning Assessment (PLA).


Applies to all CWI students seeking credit through Prior Learning Assessment.


Prior Learning Assessment (PLA): The process by which learning gained through means other than completion of a regionally accredited course is assessed to determine if credit should be awarded.

Instructional‐based Learning:  Knowledge gained in a classroom environment or through structured, monitored progress of content.  Instructional‐based learning might take place in high school, a non‐regionally accredited college or university, or through structured training through the community or workforce.

Experiential‐ based Learning:  Knowledge gained through hands‐on experience in a field of study.  Experiential based learning might take place through personal hobbies, community engagement, or work experience.

Equivalencies: The CWI course or program outcomes deemed to be a match for the content learned through PLA.

Students: Anyone enrolled in credit courses at CWI.


Prior Learning Assessment (PLA) enables individuals to earn credit and recognition for the skills and knowledge they have already acquired outside credit awarded by accredited postsecondary education institutions. Prior learning includes learning acquired from work and life experiences; community and volunteer extension courses; individual study and reading; civic, community and volunteer work; and participation in informal courses and in-service training sponsored by associations, business, government, and industry. PLA credit is not awarded for experience but for college-level learning which entails knowledge, skills, and competencies a student has obtained as a result of their prior learning experience.


To align with Northwest Commission on Colleges and Universities (NWCCU) and Idaho State Board of Education (SBOE) expectations of PLA, CWI adopts the following guidelines related to the awarding of PLA credits.

General Guidelines

  1. Prior experience is evaluated only at the request of the student.
  2. In order to be awarded PLA credit, the credit must be earned through an approved PLA method.  
  3. A student wishing to appeal a credit for prior learning decision should follow the grade appeal procedure outlined in the Student Handbook. 
  4. CWI honors the expectations put forth in Idaho’s SBOE Policy III.L. governing Continuing Education and Prior Learning.


  1. Assessment of learning is the responsibility of teachers and faculty who are content specialists at CWI.  
  2. Practices used in assessing prior learning are consistent with good contemporary assessment methodology. 
  3. Learning assessed for post‐secondary credit adheres to the following guidelines: 
    1. It is linked to established learning outcomes or other criteria consistent with institutional standards for a given course or program. It should not be linked to time spent; 
    2. It transfers to contexts other than the one in which it was learned; 
    3. Learning is current and relevant; 
    4. Successful learners demonstrate a level of achievement equivalent to that of other learners engaged in studies at that level in that program or discipline area; 
    5. Learning is assessed using a range of strategies consistent with institutional standards for a given course. 
  4. PLA credit must meet or exceed “C” level work. 


  1. Credit will be awarded for demonstrated learning outcomes that are appropriate to the subject, course, or program offered at CWI. 
  2. Teachers and faculty are the content specialists that assess prior learning and make the determination of credit awards relying on external advice when necessary. 
  3. Credit may be granted only upon the recommendation of teachers and faculty who are appropriately qualified and who are on a regular appointment with the college on a continuing basis. 
  4. Learners may only be awarded recognition for demonstrating college‐level learning that combines theory and practice, not for experience alone. 
  5. The number of credits granted is determined by the institution based on identified learning outcomes and appropriate pairing with a catalog offering.

Limitations and Restrictions

  1. PLA credit is only awarded to CWI students who are currently enrolled past census date in credit courses with a declared major. 
  2. PLA credit is not awarded and may not be used to replace or repeat courses already recorded on the student’s transcript at CWI with a passing or failing grade. Courses from which the student withdrew are eligible for PLA. 
  3. PLA credit may be awarded and is evaluated based on the applicability of the credit toward satisfying CWI degree or certificate requirements for the student.  PLA credit awards will follow the same guidelines as CWI's transfer credit policy.
  4. PLA credits might not transfer to other institutions of higher education (IHEs).  Transfer students earning PLA should contact the college to which they intend to transfer to understand the receiving institution’s PLA transfer policy.
  5. PLA credit does not fulfill CWI’s residency requirement for certificate or degree completion.  
  6. PLA credit will not satisfy credit hour requirements (FT/PT load) for any financial assistance program.
  7. PLA credit does not count toward the rate of pursuit or credit load for Veterans benefit programs.
  8. Credit for Prior Experiential Learning (CPEL) will be limited to 25% of the credits needed for a degree (15 credits of a 60‐credit degree). 
  9. Total PLA credits (including CPEL) will be limited to a maximum of 80% of the credits needed for a degree or certificate.

Administration and Support  


  1. The Registrar’s office maintains record of a student’s PLA credit. 
  2. CWI will regularly monitor, review, evaluate, and revise PLA policies and practices to maintain and improve institutional standards. 
  3. Policies and information about PLA processes, including provision for appeal, will be readily available. 
  4. PLA must be tied to catalog offerings. 
  5. Capstone courses identified with a 290 number are excluded from PLA.


  1. Fees are published and consistently applied as noted on the PLA website <>.
  2. Fees are charged for the assessment of the credits earned.
  3. Actual costs, not the amount of credit awarded, determine the fees for assessment. 
  4. Charges assessed for faculty review of submitted materials will be established in advance based on the current hourly teaching rate at 15‐minute intervals with a minimum charge of 30 minutes.
  5. Fees are reviewed and updated once a year in accordance with catalog deadlines.


  1. PLA credits are recorded on the student’s transcript with a grade of pass (P); as such, grades for PLA do not affect the student’s GPA. 
  2. The transcript records the method of assessment and identifies the credit as earned through PLA.