True to its evidence-based approach, the Achieving the Dream National Reform Network annually evaluates its state policy reform efforts using both quantitative and qualitative methods. As part of a 2011 review, states reported the following successes:
- The Virginia Community College System engaged in a collaborative process and gained broad-based support to increase community college student success by redesigning developmental education across the state’s 23 community colleges.
- The strategic plan for the North Carolina system specifically cites Achieving the Dream goals, leveraging the initiative’s success approach across all 58 colleges.
- The Ohio legislature approved a performance funding system for public universities and colleges that rewards institutions for improving student success. This new system, shaped in part by Ohio’s experience with Achieving the Dream, has increased the focus on improving and using data to help drive decisions and obtain better results.
- Ten states provide feedback reports to high schools regarding the performance of their graduates in college (AR, HI, IN, OK, TX, OH, NC, FL, VA, CT).
- At least seven states have performance funding systems tied to retention and/or completion (AR, CT, HI, IN, OH, OK, WA). Several more states, including Massachusetts, Texas and Virginia, are considering such systems. Eleven states are trying to increase the uptake of federal financial aid (AR, HI, MA, OK, PA, SC, TX, OH, NC, VA, CT). Many students eligible for need-based federal financial aid do not apply for this aid, limiting their college financing options and negatively impacting their academic achievement.
- Ten states have implemented a common assessment test cut score for all institutions to use when determining student placement (AR, HI, IN, MA, TX, OH, NC, FL, VA, CT).
- Eight states have a college readiness assessment that is administered in the 11th or 12th grade (FL, VA, TX, MI, AR, HI, OK, SC).
- At least seven states have performance funding systems tied to retention and/or completion (AR, CT, HI, IN, OH, OK, WA). Several more states, including Massachusetts, Texas and Virginia, are considering such systems.
- Eleven states are trying to increase the uptake of federal financial aid (AR, HI, MA, OK, PA, SC, TX, OH, NC, VA, CT). Many students eligible for need-based federal financial aid do not apply for this aid, limiting their college financing options and negatively impacting their academic achievement.
The learnings of the Achieving the Dream National Reform Network continue to help inform and shape national education policies:
- Influenced the shape of the American Graduation Initiative proposals and the $2 billion, four-year Community College and Career Training grants.
- Defined intermediate and final indicators of student success that are well-suited to community colleges. Those indicators have been integrated into the Voluntary Framework of Accountability, the first national system of accountability for community colleges, as well as the metrics adopted by the National Governors Association and Complete College America for state reporting of progress and completion.
- Created tools that have been used to facilitate conversations in states outside of Achieving the Dream. In May 2011, for example, the Los Angeles Community College District's Student Success Task Force used Achieving the Dream materials to discuss the status of their own policies.
- Consulted regularly with officials from the White House and the Department of Education on critical issues facing community colleges.
Source: Self-reported data from seven Achieving the Dream states (AR, HI, IN, MA, OK, PA, SC) and the six DEI states (CT, FL, NC, OH, TX, VA), from the State Policy Framework Self-Assessment Tool, 2011. Supplemented by research by Jobs for the Future.
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