Prior Learning Assessment

Section: III.  STSV - 212
Approved By: Mary Chikwinya, 2/7/17
Last Review: 2/8/16
Last Revision: 2/8/16
Prior Revisions: June 2011
Initial Adoption: 1/28/04


Tacoma Community College supports life-long learning to meet the needs of students with respect to retraining, upgrading, personal enrichment, and credentialing of gained knowledge and skills. TCC’s policy is to provide opportunities to evaluate a student’s experience outside the college classroom for college credit at the request of the student.


Tacoma Community College serves a diverse community of learners, many of whom have acquired a wealth of previous learning through life experiences including work, training, and independent study.  These adults come to the college ready to demonstrate what they already know and can do.  Prior Learning Assessment provides students with opportunities to obtain credit for some of these life experiences.

To Whom Does This Policy Apply

All individuals registered for classes at Tacoma Community College. Pursuant to WAC 288.277.230, this policy addresses awarding of prior learning credit for veterans.


RCW 288.10.057 Academic credit for military training.
RCW 288.77.230 Academic credit for prior learning.
Previous Board Policy Manual Section 4.1030 Advanced Placement
Previous Board Policy Manual Section 1.5050 Course Challenge
Previous Board Policy Manual Section 4.5060 College Level Examination Program


Advanced Placement – Credit for advanced placement will be granted to high school seniors earning scores of three (3) or higher on the Educational Testing Advanced Placement Tests. Those department which grant advanced placement credits will development procedures for their respective disciplines. A grade of “S” will be awarded in all course where credit is granted, and the number of credits gained will be noted on transcript.

International Baccalaureate (IB) – A student who tested in an IB subject while in high school may request college credit based on the higher level IB exam. Tacoma Community College will evaluate each student’s record individually, on a departmental basis, for credit and advanced placement.

College Level Examination Program/DANTES - Tacoma Community College participates in the College Level Examination Program (CLEP) and grants credit toward the Associated in General Studies Degree for CLEP scores in general or subject area examinations at or above the 50th percentile. A maximum of 30 CLEP credits may be applied toward elective requirements in the Associate in General Studies Degree. Credit is granted for subject area examinations when approved by the appropriate department.

Course Challenge – A student enrolled for five or more credit hours may earn additional credit hours in some courses by a challenge examination, provided the department has developed a challenge examination. Students who successfully challenge a course will receive an “S” grade.

Portfolio – Portfolio assessment option may be available in some departments. A portfolio consists of products, activities, exemplars, and other supporting documentation that supports and demonstrates a student’s attainment of course learning outcomes, Credit is granted for subject area examinations when approved by the appropriate department.

Military Training – Military Training may include courses, training, or activities noted on an individual’s military transcript issued by any branch of the armed services; or documented military training or experience that is substantially equivalent to any course or program offered by the institution of higher education.


Students who request Prior Learning Assessment must contact the Credentials Evaluator in Enrollment Services. The student must provide all available office documents, such as college/university transcripts, official Joint Services Transcript (JST) through the armed services in which he/she served, or training certifications earned.

Opportunities for Prior Learning Assessment (PLA) vary from program to program and are subject to faculty review. For a current list of programs offering PLA, contact the Assessment office or the Credential Evaluator, Registration and Records Center, in Building 7.

Upon receipt of the office documents:

  • The Credentials Evaluator will evaluate the transcript for reading, English, and mathematics placement and any academic (general education) credits earned, posting to the student record as applicable.
  • TCC will grant credit for courses recommended for credit by a national higher education association that provides credit recommendations for military training programs, such as the ACE (American Council on Education).
  • TCC will evaluate military transcripts to determine whether training or experience is substantially equivalent to any course or program offered will be accepted as applicable toward the student’s program of study. Such evaluation may include referral to the appropriate academic program.
  • The program faculty will evaluate courses submitted for evaluation and return it to the Credentials Evaluator.
  • The Credentials Evaluator will post credit to the student record and notify the student of credits accepted or denied and applicability to program of study.
  • Per the Veteran’s Administration, all veteran student transfer credit must be evaluated within two quarters of program start. After the third quarter, if the student does not submit all transcripts, he/she must be decertified for use of the VA education benefits. Veteran students using education benefits are not permitted to opt out of prior credit evaluation.