USASMA ACEs common core evaluation: Receives additional college credits for Soldiers

Photo by Sgt. Maj. Patrick J. McDonald, USAR Graduates of the Sergeants Major Course will receive an extra upper division credit to be used towards their aspirations of attaining a bachelor's degree. Overall graduating from the course equates to 9 lower division and 16 upper division college credits.
Photo by Sgt. Maj. Patrick J. McDonald, USAR
Graduates of the Sergeants Major Course will receive an extra upper division credit to be used towards their aspirations of attaining a bachelor’s degree. Overall graduating from the course equates to 9 lower division and 16 upper division college credits.

The U.S. Army Sergeants Major Academy – the proponent for all NCOES common core courses, the Battle Staff NCO Course and Structured Self Development (SSD) – recently scored an “A+” on its evaluation from the American Council on Education or ACE.

“This is a good news story,” Command Sgt. Maj. Dennis Defreese, commandant of USASMA said. “We went through the ACE evaluation and got the most credits that we have ever received for SSD I and Warrior Leader Course, all the way up through the Sergeants Major Course and SSD V. It is pretty significant for all of the credit they gave us.

Sgt. Maj. Robert Hixson, deputy director for the Department of Training, explained the process ACE used to evaluate USASMA’s courses.

“ACE evaluation looks at our teaching method, the level of rigor we put into the course, the examinations and the rigor put in them as well,” he said. “They look at what we teach and they compare that to college curriculum to ensure it matches the level of credit awarded. A lower division credit equates to an associate degree; upper division credit would be for a bachelor degree; and graduate division, which we didn’t get any credit, would be for masters.”

The evaluation of each course takes time with USASMA supplying all products to be evaluated in advance.

“Over a six month period we had to give ACE a period of instruction which is basically every class; everything the instructor has; and everything the student sees for evaluation to include every examination,” he said. “We had to provide them all of that and then we had several conference calls with them where we talked about the curriculum.”

Hixson said the dialogue between USASMA and ACE went back and forth for some time with ACE asking questions like, ‘Which program of instruction, or POI, is the valid one for the Warrior Leader Course – the 15-day POI, the 17-day or the 22-day?’ Once all of the questions were answered, ACE proceeded with their evaluation of the courses.

“What they do is they take three professors from various academic institutions and each one independently will review a POI and determine what credit they think should be awarded for that POI based on the level of work and level of education in the lesson,” Hixson said. “Then they bring the recommendations together and there is a month grace period where they come in and visit for two days, and go through the entire curriculum block while they are here. Then they went back for a month and reviewed what they got from the professors and made their credit recommendation.”

Illustration by David Crozier, USASMA This charts shows the before and after college credits the American Council on Education recommends colleges and universities consider when dealing with military students seeking degrees. While not every university accepts the recommendation by ACE in its entirety, most accept military education as a college credit towards a degree.
Illustration by David Crozier, USASMA
This charts shows the before and after college credits the American Council on Education recommends colleges and universities consider when dealing with military students seeking degrees. While not every university accepts the recommendation by ACE in its entirety, most accept military education as a college credit towards a degree.

Then end result of the evaluation – an additional 23 college credits for the various courses. (See the chart)

With most colleges requiring 60-80 credit hours, depending on your major to obtain an associate degree and 120 hours to obtain a bachelor degree, Structured Self Development and NCOES will get you the needed credits to obtaining your degree that much easier.

“Most colleges require you to get four classes for residency, so what you get in NCOES and four basic classes you could have an associate’s degree potentially,” he said. “That is what I did, a long time ago at Fort Riley, I went to the community college and I had to take a math course, an English course, a science course, and a fine arts course. And with those four classes I was awarded an associate’s degree.”

Some colleges may require you to take up to eight classes in residency depending on your major for a bachelor degree,’ said Roxanna Taylor, USASMA’s education program advisor.

Hixson cautioned that not all colleges accept what ACE recommends, but regardless the education you receive through the Army does go towards your degree aspirations. He added that even though ALC-Common Core is no longer being taught, the recommended credit it received will sit in place for those who completed the course to allow them that college credit.

ACE is the nation’s most visible and influential higher education association and represents the presidents of U.S. accredited, degree-granting institutions, which include two- and four-year colleges, private and public universities, and nonprofit and for-profit entities. ACE’s strength lies in their loyal and diverse base of more than 1,700 member institutions, 75 percent of which have been with ACE for more than 10 years. ACE convenes representatives from all sectors to collectively tackle higher education challenges, with a focus on improving access and preparing every student to succeed.