Midwest Credential Transparency Alliance (MCTA)

Last Updated: 03/09/2024

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The Midwestern Higher Education Compact (MHEC) launched The Midwest Credential Transparency Alliance (MCTA) in January 2021 to work with all 12 Midwest states to help move them along a path toward credential transparency. The project's focus is to use a regional community of practice to advance credential transparency to ensure that information about all credentials in the region is transparent, connected, comparable, comprehensive, and usable.

The 12 states have a goal to advance a linked open data strategy to consistently describe for the public the key attributes of about 150,000 credential offerings, such as their associated competencies, quality indicators, costs, transfer value, occupational codes, pathways, outcomes, and more. In combination with other data sources, this information is critical for answering basic questions, such as:

  • Career pathways: What do I want to do? What are my options? How can I get started? What’s the sequence? What are the benefits? Will this be a good fit for me?
  • Enrollment decisions: How much will it cost? How long will it take? How are these programs different? How effective has this offering been for people like me?
  • Transfer and prior learning assessment: What are my options for transferring? How can I obtain advanced standing? Will my existing credits apply to program requirements? Will I lose any time or money?
  • Verifiable achievements: Are my demonstrated skills and competencies valuable to employers? How can I communicate my achievements to others? How can I secure or advance my career?

Each MHEC state has a team of representatives from higher education agencies/systems, K-12 agencies, workforce development agencies, and governor's offices who collaborate to break down data silos and support the creation of a rich, interoperable, linked work and learn data ecosystem. Such a system allows states to publish their credentials to the Credential Engine's Credential Registry, which will provide a free, open access tool for students, educators, and employers to search for and learn about all of the credentials offered throughout the Midwest. Linked, interoperable state credential data systems will sustain over time by supporting important state goals such as state attainment agendas, career and education pathways initiatives, the development of comprehensive learner/worker records, and more.

The MCTA operates by hosting regular convenings to: (1) network (identify common challenges, project consulting, mentorship); (2) create new resources (guidance, blogs, webinars, reports); (3) form action teams (technical & business requirements, policy, research); and (4) advance dissemination (celebrate accomplishments, presentations, articles, social media).

In 2022, MCTA issued an RFP: Midwest Credential Transparency Alliance Mini-Grants funded by Ascendium, MHEC, and Credential Engine. The RFP invited eligible entities of MHEC member states to submit proposals for small grants of up to $20,000 to support progress towards credential transparency goals and serve as examples for other participating states. These grants funded demonstration projects or advanced work already begun such as:

  • Publishing a substantial number of new credentials and/or richer credential data to the Registry, especially if publishing that data might serve as a proof point to other states.
  • Publishing pathways or transfer information.
  • Publishing quality indicators and outcome data.
  • Developing end user tools or implementing other use cases, especially if that process contributes to the development of procurement contracts or RFPs that can be reused across the region.

Projects were short-term, extending from June 2022 - December 2022.

Credential Transparency

Credential transparency refers to making public – in formats humans can read and machines can act upon – essential information about credentials, such as their competencies, quality, costs, pathways, transfer value and connections to jobs. It is based on the premise that the easier it is to access and use comparable information about credentials, the easier it is for people to find the most cost-effective way to learn the right skills and find the best jobs.

Partners and Funders

Credential Engine; Ascendium; Midwestern Higher Education Compact (MHEC); state agencies in IL, IN, IA, KS, MI, MN, ND, OH, SD, and WI; multiple national organizations & professional associations.







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