Participants Involved in the iPLA Process

There are individuals, center and collegewide offices and faculty committees involved in the individualized prior learning assessment process.

Expand each participant to view their responsibilities.

Students develop individual Prior Learning Assessment (iPLA) requests, usually during educational planning, under the guidance of their primary mentors. In some cases, students consult with a prior learning assessment specialist at their center and/or attend a PLA workshop.

Students seeking credit through the iPLA process are expected to:

  • create a college-level learning description/essay for each separate iPLA request, with guidance from the primary mentor
  • provide supporting materials if relevant to the request
  • submit a draft degree program plan (DP) reviewed by their mentor, so that the request can be placed in the context of a full degree program
  • contact the evaluator upon notification of assignment by the Center Office of Academic Review (COAR)
  • participate in an interview or interviews with the evaluator to discuss their learning
  • provide any additional information or further demonstration of learning upon the evaluator's request
  • adhere to Empire State College's academic integrity expectations.

Each student is assigned a primary mentor, who serves as the student's academic advisor. Relevant to the iPLA process, primary mentors work with students to:

  • design the degree program
  • identify prior college/university-level learning relevant to the degree program
  • develop prior learning requests that meet college expectations
  • review each iPLA request prior to submission for evaluation
  • reconcile any discrepancies between the student’s original iPLA request and the final version.

Evaluators for iPLA are either Empire State College faculty or external experts in their fields, who are hired as independent contractors on an “as needed” basis to assess students' college/university-level learning acquired outside the traditional college academic experience.

Evaluators are expected to:

  • indicate acceptance or rejection of the request in PLA Planner (login required)
  • review the accepted iPLA request to prepare for the interview
  • interview the student to determine the breadth and depth of the student’s knowledge
  • assess the student’s learning
  • provide a written recommendation through PLA Planner
  • contact the assessment specialist with questions or issues that arise around the evaluation process:
    • use the Evaluator-COAR dialog in PLA Planner for questions or issues related to a specific iPLA request
    • contact the center assessment specialist directly with general questions or issues related to iPLA.

To learn more about becoming an iPLA evaluator, see Working as an Evaluator.

Center Office of Academic Review (COAR)

Each learning center has a Center Office of Academic Review (COAR), staffed with a director of academic review (DAR), assessment specialists and support staff.

The director of academic review:

  • leads and directs all functions of the Center Office of Academic Review, including oversight of the iPLA process and graduation reviews
  • ensures the overall consistency and integrity of all center degree programs
  • assists students and mentors during the degree planning process and through the review, approval and reconciliation of the degree programs
  • coordinates and guides the center's Faculty Review Committees to review and approve the students' degree plans, including the approval of iPLA credits
  • facilitates submission of approved degree programs to the Office of Collegewide Academic Review for concurrence (final approval).

The assessment specialists (the number varies by center):

  • provide student workshops and individual support to students, mentors and evaluators
  • hire, train and work with evaluators to ensure that the evaluation process goes smoothly and meets college policies
  • review all incoming iPLA requests for potential placement; identify and assign qualified evaluators; track and facilitate timely completion of the evaluation process
  • accept or return recommendation reports; assist evaluators with preparation or revision of reports as required
  • initiate payment for the iPLA evaluator.

Support staff (the number varies by center) are responsible for supporting the activities of the center's director of academic review and assessment specialists.

Although the name of the committee varies from center to center, each center has faculty assessment committees responsible for:

  • review of degree program plans to ensure the degree programs meet:
    • college standards of academic integrity and quality
    • college policy and academic guidelines
  • maintenance of consistency of decisions across the center
  • review and approval of evaluator recommendation reports and credit recommendations.

The Office of Collegewide Academic Review (OCAR), located at the college's Coordinating Center in Saratoga Springs, is staffed by a director of collegewide academic review, academic review specialists and support staff.

The Office of Collegewide Academic Review is responsible for:

  • checking the degree program approved at the center level for consistency with college policy and SUNY degree requirements
  • reviewing evaluator recommendation reports for consistency with college policy
  • providing concurrence (final approval) of the advanced standing credits and degree program
  • maintaining PLA Planner (login required).