CTE Pathways for Veterans through Credit for Prior Learning: MAP and the IEDRC College Collaborative

In Fall 2017, Norco College began developing the Military Articulation Platform (MAP)—a cloud-based system that allows evaluators and faculty to match military training with college courses and give veterans the college credit they deserve. MAP relies on credit recommendations made by the Academic Council on Education (ACE) which are then paired with similar courses in the college catalog. These pairings (or articulations) are activated and published when they are approved by discipline faculty at the college. Once all ACE recommendations (many thousands) are matched to all the college courses, the college will be able to award all possible credit to our vets. This will increase access for veterans by giving them up to 30 units of credit for their military training. The project, under the general direction of Dr. Samuel Lee, Vice President of Academic Affairs at Norco College, was initially funded by Assembly Member Sabrina Cervantes through a state appropriation. In Spring 2018, the Inland Empire Desert Regional Consortium (IEDRC) joined the effort by sponsoring its expansion into a regional Strong Workforce effort serving its 10 member colleges.

The MAP team is supervised by Mark DeAsis, Dean of Admissions and Records, and Terence Nelson, who serves as Project Implementation Lead. In this early phase of the project the MAP team is focusing CTE course articulations, which will shorten time to completion for certificate and degree pathways for veterans seeking new career opportunities. By expediting these career pathways, our vets will conserve their limited Post-911 GI Bill benefits and re-enter the workforce much sooner and with higher wage prospects.  MAP colleges are excited about the potential to increase completions and veteran participation rates–both access and equity goals. Most importantly, our region will recruit, retain, and equip the incredible assets in our communities: our veterans.

Meet Darrell Palmer, the first recipient of MAP-generated credit for military training. Darrell is a Norco College student and a U.S. Army veteran who served a Tactical Satellite / Microwave Systems Operator (MOS 26Q). We are excited to report that in Spring 2020, Mr. Palmer was awarded 17 units of applicable credit towards his Digital Electronics AS degree. Because he is being granted the credit he deserves, Darrell is getting back 6 months of his life and saving thousands of dollars on student fees, textbook costs, and living expenses. We look forward to a day in the very near future when Darrell’s story will be replicated across the region and state.

The true impact of the “Awarding Veterans the CTE College Credit They Deserve” is far more than fiscal savings for veterans and the state yet the projected financial gains cannot be denied. With over 750,000 GI Bill users each year nationally, most actually attend private for-profit colleges, which generally do a much better job awarding credit for military training. Compare the tuition at these college to that of California community colleges, and it’s a shocking $30,000-40,000 per year difference. In addition, veterans earning up to a year of credit for prior learning could save over $10,000 housing allowances. This could save student veterans and taxpayers more than $300M for the 30,000 average annual GI Bill students in our state. This project supports dignity and respect for our service members and is a potential boost to the economy and employers.

Currently all ten IEDRC colleges are uploading their curriculum and programs into MAP. In the next stage, MAP teams at each college will match ACE recommendations with their catalog. In fall 2020, we project thousands of articulations in the region will be published, which will begin to positively impact thousands of student veterans. As an example, within Electronics Technology at Norco College, over 133 articulations have been activated. Now those who performed those jobs in the military can complete their certificate or degree up to 6 months sooner. If you would like to consider articulating military courses and experiences in your CTE area or to find out more about the project, please contact your college’s MAP Project lead or the Project #16 Lead Terence C Nelson at terence.nelson@norcocollege.edu.