Achieving the Dream Colleges Selected to Build Guided Pathways

We are very proud to announce that 21 of the 30 community colleges just selected for the Pathways Project, led by the American Association of Community Colleges, Achieving the Dream (ATD) and other partners, are active ATD institutions. Two additional colleges are former ATD Network institutions. All of the colleges showed important readiness characteristics for pathways work as well as a commitment to holistic institutional transformation. Over the course of two and a half years, the Pathways institutions will build capacity to design and implement structured academic and career pathways at scale for all of their students.

ATD colleges have had an early start in developing the fundamentals required to build guided pathways at scale, thanks in part to the framework provided by ATD’s five principles. For example, we’ve observed that the most successful ATD colleges have committed leadership at the top as well as deep faculty engagement and leadership.  Their culture of evidence is strong with extensive use of data to inform decision-making, improved IR/IT supports, and movement toward predictive modeling. Systemic institutional improvement is visible through tight ties between ATD work and institutions’ strategic plans, accreditation processes, and big grants such as Title III or integration into governance structures such as Student Success Councils. Equity-minded design is beginning to come to the forefront. Colleges in the ATD Network understand that the “cafeteria” approach must be narrowed and focused toward meta-majors with fewer program choices, aligned courses, and strategically-placed, custom-designed academic and non-academic supports.

Many ATD institutions have begun establishing pathways. Achieving the Dream also has been deepening its pathways work, providing technical assistance to Network colleges to develop or strengthen their structured pathways. For example, we are supporting 12 community colleges and two four-year colleges through the Integrated Planning and Advising for Student Success (iPASS). The iPASS initiative leverages technology to enhance course selection, advising, registration, progress monitoring and targeted student supports, all of which play an essential role in successfully implementing a pathways approach. The colleges selected for our retail pathways project, funded by the Walmart Foundation, are now building for-credit, stackable short-term pathways that lead to middle-skill positions in the retail industry. Colleges in the Northeast Resiliency Consortium, supported by the US Department of Labor, are collaborating to create structured pathways to positions in the health care, information technology, and environmental technologies sectors. 

Our recent experiences as a field with boutique interventions suggest that anything less than bold, proactive change won’t increase student success and completion to the level our students deserve. We congratulate our ATD institutions as they embark on that transformational journey with guided pathways and we look forward to learning from their experiences.

Read the full press release announcing the selected colleges here


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