FORT BENNING, Ga., (Sept. 25, 2013) -- Members of the American Council on Education's Military Evaluation Program visited Fort Benning Sept. 17-19 for an assessment of 46 courses to provide colleges and universities with guidance for recognizing academic credit for military educational experiences. According to its website, ACE has provided credit recommendations for formal military courses and training since 1945.

Richard Edgerly, chief of Staff and Faculty for Directorate of Training and Doctrine, said the emphasis on education from senior leadership from the Maneuver Center of Excellence and the Department of Defense is important.

"It's important for the MCoE that students and instructors here understand as we update courses, why we're doing it and how it can affect them down the road in a positive manner," he said.

The evaluation team consists of subject matter experts and ACE staff, including former military and current or retired college professors, who are selected based on courses taught, recommendations from post-secondary educational institutions, professional and educational associations, nationally recognized accrediting agencies, colleagues and non-collegiate organizations.

"They come and review course programs of instruction, lesson plans and other instructional and student material that is handed out and all tests that are conducted," Edgerly said. "They evaluate each program of instruction in the entire package and then award credit hours for vocational and post-secondary education."

Edgerly said the primary focus of evaluations were centered on courses for NCOs or enlisted Soldiers who most likely have not pursued college education. These credits can allow Soldier to earn a degree in a shorter time period.

"Whether a Soldier walks out of the Army with a four-year or six-year enlistment or 30 years, with every military school he or she has gone to or an MOS, he or she is going to get some post-secondary credit for it," Edgerly said. "The Soldier does not necessarily have to take every class within the program he or she is going into. Those classes range from diesel mechanics to leadership, public speaking, public relations and management."

Dawn Light, associate director of ACE's Military Evaluation Program, provided unofficial lower and upper level course credit evaluations during an outbrief session for MCoE leaders and staff after the assessments.

"The Soldier can send a transcript to the college and they will apply it at their discretion depending on which degree that the Soldier is attempting to get," Light said. "There are a lot of degrees out there that are tailored specifically to MOSs and Army career degrees. When they apply for school to further their education, that becomes a part of the application process that is confirmed through the ACE system."

According to its website, ACE provides quality assurance and policy guidance to the Army, Navy, and Marine Corps for military transcripts. More than 2,300 colleges and universities recognize these transcripts as official documentation of military training and experiences and applicable ACE credit recommendations.

"The team worked very hard to look at those basic training courses and try to align them where appropriate for the Army's core physical conditioning and marksmanship," Light said. "Critical thinking and leadership development that the Army places emphasis on were showing up in the credit recommendations."

Light said recommendations must be reviewed and approved by a committee of civilian and military personnel before a final report is submitted within 30 to 45 days and credits can be published in a course catalog.

Edgerly said the ACE evaluation team will return in September 2014 to update remaining courses. Updates take place every seven to 10 years unless major changes in course content take place or a new courses develop.

"This is absolutely critical for these young men and women," Edgerly said. "My hope is that it encourages Soldiers to go on and finish a degree because they are then much more likely to get quality employment."