Achieving the Dream and AACC Pursue Opportunities Aligning Their Success Metrics

Atlanta, GA (February 25, 2016) – Achieving the Dream (ATD) and the American Association of Community Colleges (AACC) today announced that the two organizations will begin pursuing opportunities through the alignment of their respective success metrics to speak with one voice about the value of community colleges, from student entry through completion, and into the workforce.

Noting the intersection between ATD’s metrics and AACC’s metrics, the two organizations signed a Memorandum of Understanding that will encourage the adoption of AACC’s Voluntary Framework of Accountability (VFA) metrics in ATD institutions, and introduce VFA institutions to the ATD network.

“Recognizing our common metrics can help us develop a strong, clear picture of community college student achievement to share with policymakers and the public,” said Dr. Karen A. Stout, ATD President and CEO. “The value of a community college education comes through when all of our efforts to improve student degree completion and attainment can be captured and reported as a whole.”

 “The Voluntary Framework of Accountability provides community colleges a common framework to report actual institutional performance and student success data," said Dr. Bumphus, CEO of AACC. “Collaborating with ATD to explore how we can best use these metrics to guide institutional improvement will truly benefit our member community colleges and provide reporting data that is specific to the community college and its students."  

In 2015, Achieving the Dream began collecting student success data through the National Student Clearinghouse. The cohort-based metrics include:

  • Percent of students who were retained from fall term to their next academic term (spring) and to the next fall
  • Average weeks of full-time equivalent enrollment
  • Percent of students who reached three-year and four-year persistence/attainment outcomes such as: completed certificate or degree (including any formal award); transferred to a two-year or four-year institution; and still enrolled at initial institution.

 The VFA metrics, announced in 2013, include:

  • Developmental Progress Education Measures: Percent of students who need developmental education progress through developmental education and into college-level work
  • Two-Year Progress and Outcomes Measures: percent of students who reach two-year progress points and outcomes including retention, credit thresholds, earning a credential, transferring, and still enrolled
  • Six-Year Outcomes Measures: percent of students that achieve one of the 9 outcomes including earning a certificate, associates or bachelor’s degree; transfer; still enrolled; left institution with less/more than 30 credits

Forty-six Achieving the Dream colleges representing 30 percent of all VFA participants have adopted the VFA.  

AACC and ATD will work together in the future to develop additional metrics that align with the journey of our colleges, and to identify a common approach to determining the labor market value of degrees and credentials.

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Media Contacts:

Lynn Reddy, Achieving the Dream


Martha Parham, AACC

About the American Association of Community Colleges

As the voice of the nation’s community colleges, the American Association of Community Colleges (AACC), delivers educational and economic opportunity for 13 million diverse students in search of the American Dream. Uniquely dedicated to access and success for all students, AACC’s member colleges provide an on-ramp to degree attainment, skilled careers and family-supporting wages. Located in Washington, D.C., AACC advocates for these not-for-profit, public-serving institutions to ensure they have the resources and support they need to deliver on the mission of increasing economic mobility for all. More information is available at

Achieving the Dream, Inc. is a national nonprofit that is dedicated to helping more community college students, particularly low-income students and students of color, stay in school and earn a college certificate or degree. Evidence-based, student-centered, and built on the values of equity and excellence, Achieving the Dream is closing achievement gaps and accelerating student success nationwide by: 1) guiding evidence-based institutional improvement, 2) leading policy change, 3) generating knowledge, and 4) engaging the public. Conceived as an initiative in 2004 by Lumina Foundation and seven founding partner organizations, today, Achieving the Dream is leading the most comprehensive non-governmental reform network for student success in higher education history. With over 200 institutions, more than 100 coaches and advisors, and 15 state policy teams - working throughout 35 states and the District of Columbia – the Achieving the Dream National Reform Network helps more than 4 million community college students have a better chance of realizing greater economic opportunity and achieving their dreams.

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