As technology transforms the U.S. economic landscape, employers need employees with a new set of skills to fill higher-paying jobs. Many of these new workforce needs can be met through innovative, low-cost educational programs delivered by nontraditional education providers.
Although many traditional postsecondary institutions are recognizing these providers and, in some cases, granting academic credit for such nontraditional learning experiences, there is currently no imprimatur of quality by which institutions and regional accreditors can better inform their decision to do so. A lack of federal recognition of these providers limits acceptance of credit across institutions and prohibits access to student tuition assistance. As a result, students are often denied recognition of their non-institutional learning, and institutions are not able to effectively incorporate such learning to promote degree completion.
USA Funds’ planning grant will permit the exploration of a new external third-party organization that will address this national problem of the lack of universally accepted standards for non-institutional learning. The year-long initiative is led by representatives from the Presidents' Forum, hosted by Excelsior College, and the Distance Education Accreditation Commission.