Eleven Colleges Recognized as Leader Colleges of Distinction

Achieving the Dream (ATD) today announced 11 community colleges in the ATD Network have earned Leader College of Distinction status for achieving higher student outcomes and narrowing equity gaps.

ATD anticipates that earning the new honor will position colleges to be successful in competing for the Leah Meyer Austin Award. In addition, the increased visibility should help accelerate the adoption of effective practices across the Network institutions and the community college field.

“The metrics ATD established for Leader College of Distinction are meant to encourage colleges to sustain aggressive efforts that result in far greater student success and equity,” said Dr. Karen A. Stout, president and CEO of Achieving the Dream. “The honor recognizes Network colleges that have lived their reform work over time and seen real improvements in student achievement across the institution.”

The first cohort of Leader Colleges of Distinction are:

  • Amarillo College (TX)
  • Bay College (MI)
  • College of Southern Nevada (NV)
  • Cuyahoga Community College (OH)
  • Everett Community College (WA)
  • Kingsborough Community College (NY)
  • Lorain Community College (OH)
  • Lee College (TX)
  • North Central State College (OH)
  • Passaic County Community College (NJ)
  • Pierce College (WA)

Amarillo College (TX)
Amarillo College has improved student success substantially, increasing the overall pass rate in English gateway courses in year 1 by 11 percentage points, and the 6-year transfer and earning of a baccalaureate degree by 8 percentage points. Amarillo also has narrowed the gaps in Black-White and Black-Hispanic three-year graduation rates from 12 percent to 2 percent and 11 percent to 3 while seeing all groups continue to improve.  Amarillo’s president attributes the college’s success to three main systemic changes: (a) creating a data ecosystem utilizing predictive analytics, (b) accelerating learning through 8-week courses, and (c) instituting a comprehensive approach to tackling poverty.

Bay College (MI)
Throughout its 11 years in the ATD Network, Bay College has shown steady improvement in all LCoD metrics. Most notably, four-year completion rates have risen by 7 percentage points from 25 percent to 32 percent. Successful attempts to complete courses within one year of initial enrollment have increased 5 percentage points from 74 percent to 79 percent. Furthermore, the relatively modest gaps between first-generation students and their non-first-generation counterparts have not only closed, but in some cases show that first-generation students are succeeding at higher levels. The college’s successes can be tied to an array of connected, comprehensive initiatives deployed over the past several years, including an at-scale supplemental instruction model, additional student success courses, an academic success coach, mandatory online orientations prior to a student’s first online course, and a multiple disbursement model for federal financial aid.

College of Southern Nevada (NV)
The College of Southern Nevada has posted significant improvement in key student success metrics. These include overall gains of 8 percentage points for gateway math, 8 percentage points for gateway English, 8 percentage points for fall-to-fall persistence and a 3 percentage point increase in completion. Low-income students saw a 10 percentage point increase in gateway math completion, a 13 percentage point increase in gateway English completion, and a 10 percentage point increase in persistence. The college also showed gains for female students as well as Black and Latino students across metrics. For example, there was an 11 percentage point increase in Latino student persistence.

Cuyahoga Community College (OH)
Cuyahoga Community College (Tri-C) has shown overall improvement and narrowed equity gaps in the completion rates in gateway math and English and in fall-to-fall retention. In addition, there has been a 3-year increase of 5 percentage points in four-year completion of degrees and certificates. The college has undertaken several significant initiatives in the past several years, each contributing to meaningful improvements in its student success metrics. The First Year Experience program, mandatory for all first-time students, embraces several best practices in this area.  The college has taken an intentional approach to rethinking Gateway courses with faculty driving these changes.  And the college also has created programs like Project Go! that connects students in financial need to community resources and services. Finally, Tri-C highlights the adoption of a case management strategy that targets students placed in developmental math, students of color, and graduates of the Cleveland Metropolitan School District that offers personal interventions support in completing academic plans.

Everett Community College (WA)
Everett Community College improved student outcomes in completion of gateway math in year one, year-to-year persistence, and four-year completion rates. Over three years, the college saw a 6 percent improvement in gateway math completion for Black students, 3 percent for low-income students, 10 percent for veterans, and 6 percent for first generation students.  Over the same time period, there was an increase of 9 percentage points in persistence for Hispanic students, a 2 percentage point increase for low-income students, and a 13 percentage point increase for veterans. In addition, there was a positive change of 5 percentage points in the number of Black students who earned a certificate or degree, a 5 percentage point improvement for low-income students, and a 4 percentage point increase for first generation students. Everett Community College attributed its successes to a number of changes across the student experience. The college instituted alternative math placement and shortened developmental math sequences, and launched a required first year experience, including assigned advisors at entry and mandatory orientation. The college offered guided pathways and “transformative” teaching initiatives. The college also committed itself to a systems approach to equity, a multi-year engagement process that became known as the 5 Dimensions of Equity. Everett’s equity work also has extended beyond the college to include collaboration with their local community and the state.

Kingsborough Community College (NY)
Kingsborough analyzed the progress of first-time-ever-in-college students for four-year periods and found consistent, sustained improvements in math and English gateway course completion within one year, fall-to-fall persistence, and degree completion within four years.  From Fall 2014 to Fall 2017, gateway math course completion increased from 15 percent to 26 percent while English gateway course completion increased from 59 percent to 62 percent. During the same period, Math and English gateway course completion increased from 13 percent to 22 percent. In the Fall-to-fall persistence metric for Fall 2013 to Fall 2016 cohorts, persistence increased from 65 percent to 68 percent. In degree completion within four years for the Fall 2010 to Fall 2013 cohort, there was an increase from 24 percent to 30 percent. In its efforts to narrow equity gaps, the college focused on adult learners. Based on the college’s priority of increasing access to and support for adult learners, Kingsborough chose to disaggregate its data by age (adults 25 and older vs. students of traditional college age; under 25). Although students both above and below age 25 showed increases in gateway course completion from Fall 2014 to Fall 2017, there were particularly strong gains by the 25 and older group, and by the end of the period they surpassed the younger group. This was the case in math only (from three-point gap to four-point advantage), English only (from seven-point gap to eight-point advantage), and math and English combined (from two-point gap to one-point advantage). Reducing service gaps among racial/ethnic groups was also a high priority. Equity gaps in degree completion within four years narrowed in the Fall 2010 to Fall 2013 cohorts. In the 2010 cohort, Asian students had a completion rate of 27 percent compared to 20 percent for Blacks, and 26 percent for Hispanics. In the 2013 cohort, Asian student completion increased to 31 percent while Black students increased to 27 percent and Hispanic students to 28 percent. Not only did all groups show increases, but the gap between the highest and lowest rates narrowed considerably.

Lee College (TX)
Lee College has increased student completion overall as well as male student completion, low-income student completion, and completion of graduates per full-time-equivalent student. These improvements has been achieved through many student success efforts, including scaling the college’s prison education program to more units, taking student enrollment services out to the high schools and enrolling students while they are still in high school, instituting an enrollment management plan, and a call center to increase engagement with students. In specific metrics, total college credits completed with a C or higher increased by 3 percent. Of that increase, the first generation versus non-first generation students course completion gap narrowed from 6 percent to now 3 percent. First generation students’ success increased by 5 percent overall. Persistence for fall-to-fall retention improved by 3 percent overall, including narrowing the gap for Black students by 8 percentage points from 20 percent to 12 percent. Fall-to-fall persistence for Hispanic students lagged behind white students by 2 percent and is now up by 5 percent in the fall 2016 cohort. Students who earned a credential within 4 years increased by 7 percent. Of  that number, Hispanic students increased by 8 percent and male students increased completion by 9 percent. In 2016, Lee College implemented new student success reforms, including a Hispanic Serving Institution Department dedicated to closing the gaps more. The percentage of students who successfully completed gateway English with a grade of C or better increased by 6 percent overall. White students increased the completion of gateway English within 4 years from 33 percent to 39 percent, and Hispanic students increased in that time by 11 percent by going from 30 to 41% of students completing Gateway English in Year 1. The most significant student success reform that led to this improvement was the College’s scaling of the nationally recognized Puente, which starts students with a required English gateway course incorporating culturally relevant pedagogy and paired with developmental English courses. Students are placed in a cohort first year learning community, receive a mentor, tutoring and provide family events to create a support network at home.

Lorain County Community College (OH)
Lorain County Community College has made strides redesigning structures and processes to better support student success, including offering guided pathways. The college has increased completion of gateway math and English in one year (9 percent and 6 percent from 2014-2017 respectively); first year course completion rates (2 percent from 2014-2017), and completion of a credential within 4 years (5 percent 2010-2013).

The increase in gateway completion for low-income students has outpaced the overall increase for gateway math (10 percent low-income students vs 9 percent overall), gateway English (12 percent low-income vs 6 percent overall) and both (9 percent low-income vs 8 percent overall) within one year. African American/Black students English gateway completion was 7 percent higher than overall completion rates. Increases in developmental education are attributable to the complete redesign and on-going refinement. English eliminated the lowest level of reading and combined it into 1 comprehensive remedial course for the lowest level. The highest level of developmental English implemented at scale a co-requisite model, paring the gateway and developmental courses together. New math pathways were launched to better align with program needs, ensuring students were in the ‘right fit’ for math. This along with the refinement of the developmental math courses into 1 course before college level accelerated gateway completion. Further redesign will be piloted in Spring 2019 with the launch of co-requisite math for all math tracks (statistics, quantitative reasoning, college algebra).

First year course completion rates have improved by 2 percent over the past 3 years. Faculty driven improvements made through long-term and short-term strategies boosted completion of courses across the institution. Specific to first year coursework, the advising redesign, the implementation of guided pathways, and development of exploratory majors transformed the first-year experience.

The college also saw a 5 percent increase in the four-year completion rate achieved through mindful redesign that incorporated best practices such as guided pathways, supplemental education, co-requisite education, and a comprehensive advising redesign.  Increases have been made across the board and the gap is narrowing for Hispanic students.

North Central State College (OH)
North Central State College has brought student success initiatives to scale for all students, focusing on leadership, vision, strategy, and planning. The college president and the entire college community—students, faculty, staff, and Board of Trustees— developed strategic plans around the three priorities of Success, Access, and Resources. Student success became the primary driver of change at the college. Completion of gateway math and English increased significantly over the last three years. Overall gateway math completion increased 28 percent with an increase of 18 percent for minority students and 33 percent for Pell recipients. Overall gateway English completion increased 13 percent with an increase of 10 percent for minority students and 18 percent for low-income students. These increases are due in large part to the college’s successful implementation of corequisite labs for gateway Statistics and English. Courses attempted / completed with C- or higher grade within one year of initial enrollment also increased significantly over the last three years. Overall total credits completed with a C- or higher increased 6 percent with an increase of 1 percent for minority students and 4 percent for Pell recipients. Average college credits completed in year 1 with a C- or higher increased more significantly—29 percent overall, and with an increase of 33 percent for minority students and 27 percent for Pell recipients. The increases in credit completion were driven by improvements in the advising process—advocating for students attempting more credits whenever possible—and the requirements of the Tuition Freedom Scholarship—awarded to nearly 400 graduating high school seniors in the last three years who would maintain full-time status. Increases in the completion of a certificate or degree within four years of initial enrollment were also achieved. Overall degree completion increased 5 percent over the last three years with 3 percent for low-income recipients. A larger increase was seen in the last year for all groups—overall 10 percent, minority students 5 percent, and low-income students 8 percent. Implementation of guided pathways principles in curriculum design and advising drove these increases that are likely to impact more students in coming years as they experience the full impact of clearer and more direct paths, corequisite support, early alerts, at-scale mandatory orientation and First Year Experience course, monitoring for off-track situations, and increased contact with career counselors and advisors

Passaic County Community College (NJ)
Passaic County Community College has seen strong improvements throughout the institution. The percentage of PCCC students who completed their Gateway English requirement in Year One increased from 42 percent to 57 percent. The college attributes this improvement to extensive course redesign of English 101 and English 102. Among the significant changes, the English Department heavily emphasized process writing. The percentage of courses students completed with a C- or higher grade within one year of enrollment has increased from 70 to 83 percent. This outcome corresponds with an increase in student access to academic and support services. For example, the PCCC STEM Department has expanded tutorial support services for STEM majors; added Supplemental Instruction (SI) to difficult math and science courses; and instituted student success coaching and advising for first-year STEM students. Similarly, the College embarked on a five-year effort to improve student success in gateway courses. As for completion of a certificate or degree, the percentage of students earning a credential within four years of enrollment increased from 15 percent to 17 percent. Moreover, PCCC increased the number of certificates awarded from 22 in 2011 to 790 in 2017. The college reported it began more intentionally connecting students to short-term industry-recognized credentials. For example, by creating bridge courses, many English Language Studies (ELS) students have earned the Child Development Associate (CDA), a nationally recognized credential required for employment in early childcare settings. This credential has become a stepping stone toward the associate’s degree in Early Childhood and Teacher Education.

Pierce College (WA)
Pierce College has demonstrated notable gains in student outcomes and measurable, meaningful decreases in equity gaps. The gateway English completion rate increased from 53 percent to 62 percent; fall-to-fall retention increased slightly from 59 percent to 62 percent; credential completion in four years rose from 26 percent to 34 percent.  Pierce College provided evidence of several equity gaps decreasing, including gateway English completion gap between males and females decreased from 10 percentage points to 7 percentage points; gateway English completion gap between multiracial and white students decreased from 10 percentage points to 6 percentage points; Fall-to-tall retention gap between first generation and non-first- generation students decreased from 6 percentage points to 2 percentage points. The college’s efforts to improve overall student success while closing achievement gaps have included: The Center for Engagement and Learning (CEAL), created to promote excellence and innovation in teaching and learning; Data “democratization” that give faculty and staff have direct access to course success data, with the ability to sort by course, section, modality, timeframe, subsequent course success, and a variety of demographic measures; Start2Finish Instituted and quickly scaled mandatory orientation, advising, and College Success course for all students; Open Educational Resources, and a replacement for the GED program.

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