Early and Significant Impact

ATD has had an early and significant impact on how colleges view student success and work to improve it.

By bolstering the knowledge base for institutional reform, developing a new framework for institutional transformation, and distinguishing exemplary institutions, ATD today helps colleges identify where they need to go and the path to get there. Specifically, ATD’s work has:

Strengthened data capacity across institutions.
ATD has elevated the role of institutional research and data analytics in community college decision making. Today, rather than fighting with their data and arguing about the quality of information or relevancy of metrics for success, institutions are acknowledging what they know and putting collective energy into improvement. They are intelligently and consistently measuring their outcomes and tracking their progress,
using data to begin new, continuous improvement cycles.

Made institutions more equitable. ATD’s focus on equity has been its North Star. Colleges in the network routinely scrutinize structural barriers to equity and invest in equity-minded policies, practices, and behaviors that lead to success for all students. Institutions are disaggregating data, reviewing their own policies and practices, and working to compensate for the disadvantages students experience before college and/or outside the college’s sphere of influence.

Helped institutions bolster results in student outcomes.
As a result of these efforts, ATD colleges continue to make steady progress in narrowing achievement gaps and improving key outcomes. ATD institutions continue to focus on improving completion and ensuring students are ready for a career or further education, but they are also zeroing in on leading indicators that help track student progress toward their longer-term institutional goals. These include reducing the number of entering students taking developmental courses, and increasing developmental course success rates, gateway course completion rates, fall-to-fall persistence rates, and the number of degrees, certificates, and credentials conferred.

Changed the common wisdom about institutional improvement.
ATD engages in continuous evaluations of its approaches, R&D efforts, and impact, leading to important understandings of how the work of colleges and the organization can be improved. As one example, after the first ten years, ATD learned the importance of building interventions at scale as opposed to supporting disconnected, boutique pilot programs. Other lessons include the importance of institutions creating more coherence in student supports, the value of connecting entry-to-transition systems, and the benefits of connecting academic and non-academic supports to broader systems of our communities (K-12, universities, employers, community-based organizations). ATD’s work has shown how students gain further traction to degrees through developmental education that is redesigned to be accelerated, connected to programs, and customized to program and learner needs. Today, institutions have taken these lessons to heart. They are integrating and aligning their ATD work with strategic planning, accreditation, grants and development, and governance. They are engaging more strategically in institutional interventions and advancing only work that has potential to scale. They are developing organizational structures that combine information technology, institutional research, and institutional effectiveness and they have placed this work close to the president.

Led to more inclusive design and decision making.
At ATD colleges, all key stakeholders—from trustees and senior leaders to full- and part-time faculty and staff, to students and the community—are involved in institutional redesign, from identifying new directions to implementation and delivery.

Spread new ideas across higher education.
Through learning initiatives that relate to emerging issues in the field, ATD has helped spread important knowledge about redesigning student advising, aligning career and academic pathways, accelerating developmental education, collaborating with industry on workforce development, engaging adjunct faculty, broadening the use of open education resources in community colleges, and other areas.

ATD’s approach over the past 15 years has shown an effective way for individual colleges within a network and an entire sector of higher education to work together to solve common problems and face new questions for students, graduates, and communities as they inevitably arise.

Today, ATD’s focus is to:

  • Highlight and help frame issues
  • Serve as the trusted source of relevant knowledge
  • Model change for higher education
  • Forge partnerships
  • Cultivate an investment ecosystem
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