The feasibility of a nationally recognized incremental credentialing system was explored through an 18-month planning, research, and testing project supported in 2019-2021 by a Lumina Foundation grant: Credential As You Go (CAYG): Phase One.
Phase One Outcomes
The feasibility of a nationally recognized incremental credentialing system was explored through an 18-month planning, research, and testing project supported in 2019-2021 by a Lumina Foundation grant: Credential As You Go (CAYG): Phase One. Key outcomes from this work are as follows.
A national environmental scan, conducted by the Credential As You Go (CAYG) research team (2020), gathered 87 state and system level projects across 41 states that were connected to recognizing and credentialing learning. Although many more credentialing projects are happening at the postsecondary institutional level, the scan remained at the state and system levels because of the implication for policy change and resource allocations.
State and system level projects were identified through: 1) web searches across all 50 states and territories, and 2) projects currently known to the CAYG research team and advisory board members. Each project was examined for and themed by the purpose of the project, key issues being addressed, credential focus (credit or non-credit at the postsecondary education and/or employment levels), and key outcomes when available. These themes provided the basis for an initial incremental credentialing model that was tested further in initial pilots.
Based on findings from the environmental scan, pilots were conducted within the State University of New York (SUNY) at two community colleges (Rockland Community College/RCC and Suffolk County Community College/SCCC) and a four-year comprehensive college (SUNY Empire State College/ESC) to develop and test emerging themes (proof of concept) and refine the Incremental Credentialing Model.
During the pilot phase, the institutions worked together to create micro-credentials and credentialing pathways across six discipline areas: Advanced Manufacturing, Entrepreneurship, Business Administration, Human Services, Addiction Studies, and Public Health.
Input and Feedback
The National CAYG Advisory board met regularly throughout the 18-months of the grant, providing input and feedback on the work model. Interviews were conducted with 36 national leaders across the country to gain feedback on incremental credentialing and the model. Multiple presentations, a New York Symposium, and two national webinars provided additional feedback on the work.
Recommendations from Phase One
Based on the work in Phase One, the following recommendations were made:
- Develop a national learner centered credentialing system that captures knowledge and skills as they are acquired.
- Recognize, validate, and credential all learning – knowledge and skills acquisition occurs throughout the lifetime and needs to be accounted for to help learners progress in their education and employment.
- Increase the number and types of credentials available to learners, providing more pathways of quality and integrity.
- Connect and integrate postsecondary and workforce competencies through the different types of credentialing.
- Provide clear messaging of what someone knows and can do, including transparent and authentic assessments.
- Increase transparency of what someone knows and can do through comprehensive learner records.
- Decrease student debt by providing credentials along the way and not leaving learners with no credential, and thus increasing earning power.