Prior Learning Assessment

Prior Learning Assessment (PLA) provides an opportunity to prove that you have already mastered certain skills or knowledge. If you are able to demonstrate competency in PLA areas, you could earn college credit. For example, have you been working in accounting for years? Perhaps you can demonstrate enough competency in accounting to meet the requirements of an accounting course. Or if you had advanced mathematics in high school, you might prove your competency in college algebra. The standards of the national organization Council for Adult and Experiential Learning or CAEL are adhered to by Dalton State. CAEL defines PLA as follows: “The recognition of learning gained from experiences that may be granted credit or otherwise certified… The assessment of learning attained through experiences irrespective of the time and place in which they occurred.” (Assessing Learning, 2nd edition, By Morry Fiddler, Catherine Marienau, and Urban Whitaker p.12)

Dalton State College, a member of the University System of Georgia Adult Learning Consortium, offers students the opportunity to use assessed portfolios, CLEP, and departmental challenge exams to earn credit for learning achieved prior to entry to the college.

How do you earn the credit?
You earn credit by first being admitted as a Dalton State College student and then completing the assessment, either a portfolio, a CLEP exam, or a departmental challenge exam for a particular subject. You must also register for and pay tuition for the course for which you are seeking credit. For more information, please refer to the Prior Learning Assessment Handbook.

CLEP (College Level Examination Program) 
This program, offered through the College Entrance Examination Board involves the completion of a standardized exam prepared by CLEP. CLEP exams are available through the College’s testing center. The student must purchase test materials for each test taken. The award of credit is governed by the following regulations:

No credit will be awarded on the basis of an examination taken more than twice after initial enrollment.

Credit will be given for courses for which a pre-requisite is a requirement only after such pre-requisite(s) have been satisfied.

Test cost is $80; test administration fee is $25. Total cost is $105.

For a detailed list of those classes for which CLEP credit can be awarded click here.

Portfolio Development 
Portfolio development is a process through which students identify areas of relevant learning from their past experiences,demonstrate that learning through appropriate documentation, and submit their materials so that they can be assessed and possibly awarded academic credit relative to specific course objectives at Dalton State. Students are required to take a portfolio building course (PLAD 2000). Students who are interested in this path should contact Andy Meyer ( for more information.

Departmental Challenge Exams 
Departmental Challenge Exams can be taken for some courses with the approval of the division chair and appropriate instructors. See the department chair to find out if challenge exams are available for any course of interest.