Prior Learning Assessment Program
Leeward's Prior Learning Assessment (PLA) Program (also known as College Credit Equivalency Program) provides alternate opportunities to obtain credits. Detailed guidelines and procedures are outlined in College's Manual of Policies and Procedures of the Prior Learning Assessment (PLA) Program, revised February 2017, at Leeward Community College (CC), available for reference use through counselors, the Dean of Arts & Sciences, the Dean of Career & Technical Education, Dean of Student Services or Division Chairs. Leeward Community College believes there are many ways to demonstrate the learning outcomes and competencies found in traditional classroom course offerings; therefore, the college provides a number of options to earn college credit through previous college and non-college courses, equivalency and standardized exam scores, and skills gained from life experiences. This allows students to spend their time and money on the new subjects they need and want to take.
With instructor approval, currently enrolled students may take instructor-made examinations covering the material in a specific Leeward CC course if the student feels he/she has learned the concepts and skills elsewhere. Students may contact instructors teaching the specific course they wish to challenge.
To receive credit, a student must successfully pass the challenge examination at the "C" grade level or higher. A grade of "CE" is recorded on the student's transcript to indicate credit earned through credit-by-institutional exam. Students will be assessed tuition in accordance with the College's tuition schedule for credits earned.
Credits Earned at Foreign Colleges and Universities
Credits earned in institutions of higher education in foreign countries may be transferred to Leeward CC in some cases. Official transcripts of all post-secondary work completed at foreign, non-U.S. institutions must be sent by each institution attended directly to the Leeward CC Admissions and Records Office for evaluation. If such transcripts and related documents are written in a foreign language, certified English translations must be attached. It is highly recommended that you request course descriptions along with the request for your academic transcript.
College Transfer Credit
Courses completed at other accredited colleges and universities with a grade of "D" or better may be transferable toward a Leeward CC degree. Some programs may require a grade of "C" or better.
Equivalency exams, non-collegiate sponsored education credit, and back-language credit with a "CR" grade may be applicable to Leeward degrees or certificates.
Upper division courses (numbered 300 or higher under the UH System's course numbering system) may be applied to not more than 20% of the Leeward CC 's degree or certificate.
The transcript evaluation is applicable only to the designated Leeward degree/certificate. It is not necessarily binding on other colleges to which the student may subsequently transfer.
Students are responsible for:
- Requesting that colleges previously attended send official transcripts directly to the Admissions and Records at Leeward CC; and
- Completing a Transcript Evaluation Request Form at the Admissions and Records Office or the Counseling and Advising Office. This form must be completed and returned to the Leeward CC Admissions and Records Office. The student must be enrolled in at least one credit in the UH system and Leeward CC must be the home campus before transcripts will be evaluated.
For other policies on the awarding of transfer credits, see the earlier section under Admissions Information relating to students transferring to Leeward CC from colleges or universities not part of the UH System.
Leeward CC awards college credit, which may be applied as applicable to Leeward degrees or certificates, for acceptable scores earned on two nation-wide examination programs administered by the College Entrance Examination Board of The College Board with the assistance of the Educational Testing Service:
- College-Level Examination Program (CLEP)
- Advanced Placement (AP) Examinations
- DSST (formerly DANTES)
Starting with exams taken from July 2001, students no longer need to take the former General Exams prior to completing 24 semester hours of college level work (prior to July 2001, to qualify for credit, the CLEP general examinations had to be taken before the student had completed 24 semester hours of college level coursework in courses numbered 100 or higher under the University of Hawai‘i System's course numbering system). Credit is not awarded for the General Examination in English Composition with or without essay.
Copies of the Leeward CC CLEP policy (including acceptable minimum scores, course equivalencies for the CLEP Subject Examinations and other related information) are available at the College's Admissions and Records Office and the Counseling Office.
Leeward CC awards college credit, placement into courses or programs, and/or waivers without credit for acceptable scores earned on the Advanced Placement Examinations in accordance with the AP policy and criteria adopted by the University of Hawai‘i at Mānoa, subject to such revisions as may be adopted in the future by UH Mānoa and as may be adapted by Leeward CC.
Copies of the Leeward CC AP policy (including acceptable scores for course credit, waivers, and/or placement) are available at the College's Admissions and Records Office and the Counseling Office.
Other learning experiences (such as unique kinds of employment or projects) may be granted Leeward CC credit if the learning can be verified and documented at college level, and the competency can be documented. The determination will be made by select faculty. A class is required to learn how to provide college-level evidence in a portfolio. There is also a fee, which must be paid at the time of registering for the class, for the portfolio to be assessed by a Review Committee.
Non-collegiate-Sponsored Education Credit
Formal courses completed in non-collegiate settings may be equivalent to college credit in some instances. Such courses may be sponsored by the military, businesses, industry, social and community agencies, labor unions, etc. National and local guidebooks are used in this evaluation process, including the American Council on Education's Guide to the Evaluation of Educational Experiences in the Armed Services and Credit Recommendations for Noncollegiate Courses; the Hawai‘i Guide to Crediting Noncollegiate-Sponsored Learning; and other similar recommendations from other states.
- A maximum of 21 nontraditional credits ("Portfolio-Based Assessment" and "non-collegiate sponsored education credit") can be applied toward a major/core Leeward CC degree or certificate. The maximum of 21 credits does not include credit earned through credit-by-institutional examination or independent study. Nontraditional credits may not be used to meet any part of the 12-credit residency requirement for a Leeward CC degree.
- For credit to be awarded under Leeward CC's College Credit Equivalency Program, the desired credits must, as a general rule, be substantially comparable in content and level or equivalent to any existing course(s) offered at Leeward CC.
The UH Community Colleges and UH West O‘ahu Agreement on Prior Learning Credits
In 1998, the UH Community Colleges (UHCCs) and UH West O‘ahu (UHWO) developed an agreement on the acceptance and transfer of credit for prior learning. Prior learning refers to college-level learning (knowledge, skills, and competencies in both theory and application) which may have been acquired outside the traditional classroom. If such prior learning is adequately demonstrated and documented and is equatable to a college course applicable to a degree sought by the student, college credit may be awarded.
Under the agreement, prior learning may be demonstrated through (1) portfolio assessment or (2) challenge exams or credit-by-institutional examination.
Among the UHCCs, the agreement applies to the Associate in Arts (AA) and the Associate in Science (AS) degrees. Between the UHCCs and UHWO, the agreement applies to the AA degree and select AS degrees (as defined by separate formal agreements) offered by the UHCCs as preparation for transfer to UHWO. Within UHWO, the agreement applies to the baccalaureate degree.
Procedures and handbooks to implement the agreement are being finalized. For additional information, contact the Academic Advising Coordinator in the Leeward CC Counseling Office.