college credentialing

Community colleges partner on credentialing initiative

Project hopes to elevate use of credentialing nationwide

A new project aims to identify and develop a model for creating recognizable credentialing that can be used by students, colleges, and employers.

The Right Signals initiative comes from the American Association of Community Colleges (AACC) and is supported by a grant from Lumina Foundation.

“Students have many avenues to achieve the skills necessary for obtaining well-paying jobs in the current economy,” said Holly Zanville, strategy director at Lumina Foundation. “It is critical that these skills and credentials are universally recognizable to students, colleges, and employers.”

The Right Signals initiative will demonstrate a new credentialing model that recognizes multiple quality credentials to send “the right signals” to employers, students, and colleges about the meaning of these credentials. Key credentials to be targeted are degrees, certificates, industry certifications, apprenticeships, and badges.

The highly diverse credentialing marketplace includes educational degrees and certificates, professional and industry certifications, apprenticeship certificates, digital badges and other micro-credentials, and licenses to practice. In different ways, each of these items attests to what people know and are able to do.

“Credentials and acquired skills are valuable to both students and employers,” said Walter G. Bumphus, AACC’s president and chief executive officer. “This work has the potential to provide a national system of recognizable credentials across all sectors and users making it possible to quickly identify completed courses of study, learned skills, skill mastery, continuing education credits, and other types of credentials.”

Some students enter the workforce with credentials obtained online and/or in-person at other colleges, the workplace, high schools, IT boot camps, the military, community-based and other organizations. Some community college students begin in a non-credit program, earning an occupational certificate or industry certification, with interest in transferring to credit-bearing courses. In short, community colleges must operate in the highly diversified and constantly adapting intersection of their students’ varied credentialing pathways.

Colleges selected to participate are College of Lake County (Ill.), Columbus State Community College (Ohio), Community College of Baltimore County (Md.), Eastern Iowa Community College, Gateway Community and Technical College (Ky.), Gateway Technical College (Wis.), Kirkwood Community College (Iowa), LaGuardia Community College (N.Y.), Lone Star College (Texas), Madison Area Technical College (Wis.), Metropolitan Community College (Mo.), Miami Dade College (Fla.), Mid Michigan Community College, Mississippi Gulf Coast Community College, North Central State College (Ohio), Polk State College (Fla.), Rio Salado College (Ariz.), Snead State Community College (Ala.), South Seattle College (Wash.) and South Central College (Minn.).

Material from a press release was used in this report.

Laura Ascione