College Selected to Participate in National AACC Initiative Focused on Adult Learners

by Alana J. Mauger

Montgomery County Community College  is pleased to join the American Association of Community Colleges’ (AACC) Plus 50 Encore Completion Program, which looks to train 10,000 baby boomers over the next three years for high-demand jobs.

The College is one of 17 new community colleges to be selected for the program, and is one of 28 institutions nationally chosen to participate. Several community partners, including the Montgomery County Workforce Investment Board, the Upper Perkiomen Valley Chamber of Commerce, and The Reserve at Gwynedd, endorsed the College’s participation in the initiative and have agreed to serve in an advisory capacity.

According to AACC, plus 50 adults comprise a growing population interested in returning to school. Community colleges are in a unique position to serve plus 50 learners because of proximity, flexible hours and diverse programs tailored to local demand.

By participating in the Plus 50 Encore Program, the College will provide a dedicated academic advisor who specializes in working with older adults and identify programs that help these learners launch a second career. The College will also further strengthen its Prior Learning Assessment (PLA) process model to improve adult student enrollment and persistence rates.

PLA is the process by which colleges evaluate a student’s life experience to determine if prior learning can be translated into college credits. Assessments may include evaluation of corporate or military training as established by the American Council on Education (ACE); review of student portfolios; customized tests to prove prior learning meets specific exit standards for courses; and examination of non-credit courses to document content for transferability to for-credit courses.

Results from a report from the Council for Adult and Experiential Learning show that students with PLA credits had better academic outcomes, better degree completion, better persistence, and shorter time to completion than non-PLA students.

The Plus 50 Encore Completion Program is funded with a $3.2 million grant to AACC provided by Deerbrook Charitable Trust. The Plus 50 Encore Completion program supports AACC’s work to increase the number of students who finish degrees, certificates, and other credentials.

In April 2010, AACC committed alongside other higher education organizations, to promote the development and implementation of policies, practices and institutional cultures that will produce 50 percent more students with high quality degrees and certificates by 2020. Montgomery County Community College also committed to this pledge.

For more information about the Plus 50 Initiative at AACC, visit http://plus50.aacc.nche.edu.

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