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PLA Petition



The assessment of your prior learning may require the preparation of a petition especially if the use of the College Level Examination Program (CLEP) or departmental challenge exams are not available or if your company sponsored training has not been evaluated by a third party such as the American Council on Education.

The development of a petition creates challenges for some and can be relatively easy for others. The following information is provided to answer most of your questions, and also help you determine if this process is right for you. Prior to petitioning the assessment of your learning, you are encouraged to determine that your learning is college-level, you can prove your expertise in it, and it fulfills a requirement in your degree plan.

What is a Petition?

A petition is a formal communication, presented by the student to the college, requesting credit or recognition for extra-collegiate learning. The petition must make its case by identifying learning clearly and succinctly, and it must provide sufficient supporting information and documentation so that faculty can use it, alone or in combination with other evidence, as the basis for their evaluation (Lois Lamdin, Earn College Credit for What You Know. p. 84).

A petition is a compilation of data assembled in an approved format to demonstrate college-level knowledge for an award of credit. The petition you submit to CCRI will serve as proof of your expertise and the value it has in the academic world. It can include knowledge or skills gained from a wide variety of sources.

Why Would I Want to Develop a Petition?

If you are like most returning adult learners, you have accumulated learning throughout your work and life experiences that may be similar to that which you could have acquired in a college setting. The PLA Petition is a flexible way of earning college credits for what you have learned outside the classroom. Hundreds of adults have saved countless tuition dollars and classroom hours by earning credits based on their knowledge. Moreover, these credit awards are honored by many other colleges and universities throughout the country.

Preparing a petition for faculty review involves the following five-step process:

  1. Take inventory of your knowledge.
  2. Choose the areas for which you want to seek college credit.
  3. Find course descriptions to match your learning.
  4. Provide evidence of your knowledge.
  5. Describe what you know and how you learned it.

What Subjects are Eligible for Credit?

Like all programs offered by the Community College of Rhode Island, the PLA Petition process operates on the belief that college-level learning, no matter how it is gained, deserves college credits. Therefore, nearly any area of learning (with some exceptions) can be converted into credits at CCRI as long as:

  • it can be demonstrated to be college level,
  • you can prove your expertise in it, and
  • it fulfills a requirement for a course in your program of study.

There are only a few types of courses that cannot be assessed through the petition process. These include courses in the following categories:

  • Physical education
  • Internships
  • Cooperative education
  • Course areas in which CCRI faculty have no expertise.

Who Will Determine if my Request is Credit Worthy?

Each petition is assessed by a faculty expert in that particular subject. If the assessor determines that your knowledge of the subject is college-level and is equal to a grade of "C" or better, then he or she will recommend that you receive credit.

If your knowledge is judged to be insufficient, the faculty will deny credit. Students may appeal the denial of credit. If the assessor decides that further information is needed in order to make a recommendation; you may be asked to submit additional evidence, take an examination or be interviewed by the assessor. In fact, petition applicants can offer to take an examination at the outset if evidence cannot be obtained.

Denial of Credit: Students who are notified that the grading instructor has denied credit, will have the right to appeal that decision. Students will have 10 days from the date of denial to submit a written appeal.

The Department Chair of the grading instructor reviews these appeals first. If questions still remain regarding the outcome of the assessment, they may be appealed to the Dean of Business, Science and Technology, who makes the final decision on disputes over the awarding of credit.

An appeal of credit denial will be reviewed provided that the student has

  • Submitted it in writing
  • Filed it within the required time period (10 days) and
  • Complied with any request from the faculty assessor for additional information or testing.

Will someone help me prepare a Portfolio?

Once it has been determined that the PLA Petition process is right for you, you will be assigned a Prior Learning Assessment advisor/mentor to assist you in developing your petition.

How Long Will it Take to Assess a completed Portfolio?

The amount of time needed to assess your petition will depend on a number of factors such as the type of courses chosen; the contents of the petition and even the time of year. On average, once a petition has been accepted, the actual assessment should be completed within one month. However, the College cannot guarantee this time frame. If you need the credits by a certain date to meet a graduation or promotional deadline, plan ahead to allow ample time for the assessment to be completed.

While some delays are unavoidable, there are a few measures you can take to help ensure that your petition is assessed as rapidly as possible.

  • Double-check each item before submitting your petition. Missing materials, a poorly written narrative, inappropriate evidence or unverified information can delay an assessment for weeks or months.
  • Allow for a lengthier assessment when submitting petitions in the summer, or other periods when the college is not in session. Some assessors are not available during these times, so your assessment is likely to take considerably longer.
  • Limit documentation to relevant evidence rather than padding your petition with extraneous evidence. Material used as filler will not make your case any stronger; it only makes a petition more time-consuming to review.

How Do I Begin the process?

Complete the application and submit requested information.

Take a few moments to determine if the PLA Petition process is for you. If you can find a course description that reflects your learning, you can obtain evidence of your learning and it is related to your plan of study, complete the Prior Learning Assessment Application.

After your Prior Learning Assessment Application has been reviewed, you may be directed to do one or more of the following:

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Last Updated: 1/9/17