Zane State College Receives National Award

Zane State receives national recognition and cash prize for closing achievement gaps and improving retention rates

DALLAS, TX (February 28, 2012) – Achieving the Dream, in partnership with AACC and Lumina Foundation, this evening announced Zane State College as the winner of the fourth annual Leah Meyer Austin Institutional Student Success Leadership Award.

Zane State College was recognized for their work in closing the achievement gap between developmental education students and college-ready students, improving the retention of drop-out prone students, and the superb management of the college’s leadership team. 

Zane State College’s Achieving the Dream strategies have changed the college’s culture and raised the prospects of residents of Zanesville and the other low-income, rural Appalachian Ohio communities served by the college.  Seventy-six percent of the college’s entering students need at least one developmental course; 87% of students receive financial aid.

“The Achieving the Dream Model has served as an invaluable guide as we embarked on a journey to increase retention rates and close achievement gaps at the college, and overall improve the lives of our students,” said Zane State College President Paul Brown.  “Using data to inform our program implementation and decision making processes, ever mindful of our core values of respect, responsiveness, and responsibility, has changed the way we do business.”

“Zane State College’s resolute commitment to student success and completion has set them apart as an impressive example of what is possible at community colleges all across the country,” said Achieving the Dream President and CEO William Trueheart. “This award recognizes Zane State’s strong leadership and broad institutional engagement, their breadth of successful programs, and the pervasive impact of their programs on the community. Zane State is showing the nation that high-level commitment and well-focused, evidence-based decision-making can lead to substantial improvements in student success and completion.”

Zane State College’s engaged leadership and commitment to closing achievement gaps resulted in the design and implementation of several innovative programs that bolstered at-risk student support systems.  The results:

  • The average success rate across all developmental courses at Zane State College is 78%, and most strikingly, developmental education students are closing the gap with college-ready students in gatekeeper courses.  Since 2009, three out of four students are succeeding in college-level gatekeeper courses irrespective of their initial placement status.  These increases were seen during a period of unprecedented enrollment growth, with disproportionately high numbers of students who need developmental education.
  • Significant, ongoing investments in professional development facilitated broader understanding among the college employees about the college’s “personal touch” philosophy, its access mission, and the realities of growing up in generational poverty that shape so many of its students’ attitudes, behaviors, and expectations.
  • Zane State College, in partnership with a number of other Ohio colleges, started innovative programs to increase retention.  Among the programs was QuickStart, a free, eight-week programs for students unsure about their ability to enter college successfully and those who try to register late without completing a FAFSA.  Tuition from QuickStart students has sustained the program.  The school also implemented other programs including conditional admission, MathStart, learning communities, and pre-enrollment computer training.
  • After the overwhelming success of the Math Advising Initiative, a program that encourages students to take developmental math in their first quarters in college and provides dedicated math advising for students at-risk, the college expanded the program to include all development education students.  As a result, first year completion of developmental math increased by 21 percentage points, developmental English by 24 percentage points, and developmental reading by 13 percentage points.

The Leah Meyer Austin Award, sponsored by the Lumina Foundation and administered by the American Association of Community Colleges, recognizes outstanding institutional achievement in creating excellence and equity through: 1) committed leadership; 2) use of evidence to improve policies, programs, and services; 3) broad engagement; and 4) systemic institutional improvement.

Leah Meyer Austin is a former Senior Vice President at Lumina Foundation and shaped the development of Achieving the Dream. Zane State may use the $25,000 cash award for any student success purpose it deems appropriate. Achieving the Dream also gave Special Recognition to Phillips Community College of the University of Arkansas (Helena, AK) for its excellence in culture change.  The college received $10,000 to use toward student success programs and initiatives.

Achieving the Dream 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) influencing public policy, 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 the most comprehensive non-governmental reform movement for student success in higher education history. With over 150 community colleges and institutions, more than 100 coaches and advisors, and 15 state policy teams - working throughout 30 states and the District of Columbia - Achieving the Dream helps 3.5 million community college students have a better chance of realizing greater economic opportunity and achieving their dreams.



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Achieving the Dream (ATD) leads a growing network of more than 220 community colleges committed to helping their students, particularly low-income students and students of color, achieve their goals for academic success, personal growth, and economic opportunity. ATD is making progress in closing academic achievement gaps and accelerating student success through a unique change process that builds each college’s institutional capacities in seven essential areas. ATD, along with nearly 75 experienced coaches and advisors, works closely with Network colleges in 41 states and the District of Columbia to reach more than 4 million community college students.

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