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2010 Promising Practices
Senior college leaders actively support efforts to improve student success, not just to increase enrollments, and are committed to achieving equity in student outcomes across racial, ethnic, and income groups. Administrators, board members, and faculty and staff leaders demonstrate a willingness to make changes in policies, programs, and resource allocation to improve student success. Promising Practices in Committed Leadership include: The Alamo Colleges’ Developmental Education Improvement Plan, Broward College’s “Finish What You Start” Campaign, and Zane State College’s Coordinated Team.
The college establishes processes for using data about student progression and outcomes to identify achievement gaps among student groups, formulates strategies for addressing the gaps identified and improving student success overall, and evaluates the effectiveness of those strategies. Promising Practices in the Use of Evidence include: Brazosport College’s Expansion of Learning Frameworks Course, Danville Community College’s Student Success Course, and Southwest Texas Junior College’s Building IR Capacity.
Faculty, student services staff, and administrators share responsibility for student success, and collaborate on assessing the effectiveness of programs and services and improving them. Other stakeholders with influence on student success (K-12 systems, community groups, employers, etc.) are included in discussions about student performance, desired outcomes, and potential improvement strategies. The college also gains invaluable insight about ways to improve student success from students themselves through surveys, focus groups, and/or advisory councils. Promising Practices in Broad Engagement include: Durham Technical Community College’s Communities of Learning, Inquiry, and Practice; Eastern Gateway’s College Bound Program; Hillsborough Community College’s Performance-based Scholarships; and Patrick Henry Community College’s Cooperative Learning Professional Development.
The college establishes planning processes that rely on data to set goals for student success and then uses the data to measure goal attainment. The college regularly evaluates its academic programs and services to determine how well they promote student success and how they can be improved. Decisions about budget allocations are based on evidence of program effectiveness and are linked to plans to increase student success. Faculty and staff are afforded professional development opportunities that reinforce efforts that help to close achievement gaps and improve overall student success. Promising Practices in Systemic Institutional Improvement include: Mountain Empire Community College’s Cooperative Learning Professional Development for Faculty and Valencia Community College's Expansion of Supplemental Learning.
Developmental education courses are designed for enrollees who are underprepared for college-level work. These courses are also referred to as college-prep, transitional, and foundational education on some campuses. Colleges generally offer courses in math, reading, and writing. Colleges may offer up to three levels of remediation before students are eligible for college-level coursework. Promising Practices in Developmental Education include: North Central State College's Tutor Resource Center; Northampton Community College’s Parallel Developmental Education Courses; and Zane State College’s College Student Inventory Review.
First-Year Experience efforts are comprehensive approaches designed to improve success rates and increase retention of first-year students. FYE programs may include interventions focused on the streamlining admissions processes, increasing financial aid uptake, community outreach, student success courses, and targeted orientation and advisement. Promising Practices in First-Year Experience include: El Paso Community College's College Readiness Initiative and PREP; Northern Virginia Community College’s FYE program; and Yakima Valley’s Mandatory New Student Orientation.
Student success begins in the classroom, so Achieving the Dream institutions also implement strategies to improve pedagogical practices. Strategies aimed at improving the quality of the learning experience may include interventions targeted to gatekeeper courses, employing active and cooperating learning practices, technology-supported, experiential and service learning activities. Promising Practices in Curriculum and Instruction include: Cuyahoga’s Paired Math Course; Houston Community College’s Learning Communities; and Patrick Henry's Active Cooperative Learning.
Keeping students in school—retention and persistence—is vital to student success. These retention and support services include wrap-around programs that are intended to address both academic and non-academic barriers to success. Strategies may include targeted advising practices, tutoring, counseling, mentoring, and early alert systems. Promising Practices in Retention and Support Services include: Broward College’s Holistic Advising; Norwalk Community College’s Student Success Center; and Tallahassee Community College’s Individual Learning Plans.
Achieving the Dream urges colleges to make a commitment to eliminating achievement gaps while improving outcomes for all students. Institutions examine their policies, practices, and institutional culture with the goal of reducing inequities that create barriers to success. To achieve high rates of success for all students, especially students who traditionally have faced the most significant barriers to achievement, institutions must have a student-centered vision, a culture of evidence and accountability and a commitment to equity and excellence. Promising Practices in Equity include: Capital Community College's Black & Latino Male Resource Center; Guilford Technical Community College’s SOAR; and Hillsborough’s Black, Brown, and College Bound.
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