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The Right Signals Initiative

 The Right Signals Initiative 

The highly diverse credentialing marketplace includes educational degrees and certificates, professional and industry certifications, apprenticeship certificates, digital badges and other micro-credentials, and licenses to practice. In different ways, each of these items attests to what people know and are able to do. Some students enter the workforce with credentials obtained online and/or in-person at other colleges, the workplace, high schools, IT boot camps, the military, community-based and other organizations. Some community college students start on the noncredit side of the house, earning an occupational certificate or industry certification, with interest in transferring to credit-bearing courses. In short, community colleges must operate in the highly diversified and constantly adapting intersection of their students' varied credentialing pathways.

The purpose of The Right Signals Initiative is to demonstrate a new credentialing model that recognizes multiple quality credentials to send "the right signals" to employers, students, and colleges about the meaning of these credentials. Key credentials to be targeted are degrees, certificates, industry certifications, apprenticeships, and badges. This work is being supported by a grant from Lumina Foundation as part of its commitment to creating a student-centered, learning-based credentialing system in the U.S. that is characterized by key attributes such as common language, transparency, portability, and trust in credentials.

Twenty community colleges from across the country will work together to identify and develop a model for recognizable credentialing to serve students, colleges and employers nationally. The colleges are:

  • College of Lake County (Illinois)
  • Columbus State Community College (Ohio)
  • Community College of Baltimore County (Maryland)
  • Eastern Iowa Community College
  • Gateway Community and Technical College (Kentucky)
  • Gateway Technical College (Wisconsin)
  • Kirkwood Community College (Iowa)
  • LaGuardia Community College (New York)
  • Lone Star College (Texas)
  • Madison Area Technical College (Wisconsin)
  • Metropolitan Community College (Missouri)
  • Miami Dade College (Florida)
  • Mid Michigan Community College
  • Mississippi Gulf Coast Community College
  • North Central State College (Ohio)
  • Polk State College (Florida)
  • Rio Salado College (Arizona)
  • Snead State Community College (Alabama)
  • South Seattle College (Washington)
  • South Central College (Minnesota)

For more information: therightsignals@aacc.nche.edu.

Useful Links:

 Key Dates

April 1, 2016 - Pilot colleges began work

Sept 30, 2017 - Pilot colleges conclude work

Dec 31, 2017 - Project concludes with AACC disseminating findings

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