Achieving the Dream Launches Institutional Policy Database Exclusive to Network Colleges

For more than a decade, Achieving the Dream (ATD) has been providing opportunities for colleges to share impactful approaches to helping students succeed. Through events including DREAM, funded learning initiatives, and publications, ATD Network colleges have access to information and resources to aid in their student success efforts.  As ATD launched the Institutional Capacity Assessment Tool (ICAT) and framework, we realized there was more that could be done to help colleges exchange institutional level policies. Through the creation of the Institutional Policy Database, ATD will be able to more directly share successful policy practices with Network colleges in order to continue breaking down barriers to student success.

Examples of policy areas include: Advising, Assessment and Placement, College Success Courses, Counseling Data &Technology, Developmental Education, Diversity and Equity, Early Alert, Emergency Financial Aid,  Institutional/Organization, Learning Communities, Orientation/On-boarding,  Professional Development, Teaching Practices, Transfer Policies, Transportation, and Tutoring.

ATD Network colleges can access the Institutional Policy Database by logging in to ATD Connect and clicking the Institutional Policy Database link located on the Network Community homepage. Once colleges have entered the Institutional Policy Database, they will find the Institutional Policy Form*, designated categories of policy folders, and a forum to open a discussion about policy ideas with other colleges.  An example of an institutional policy submitted by Bellingham Community College is offered below. It is already available on the Database under the category Developmental Education. Bellingham Community College’s Institutional Policy Form sample is attached to this update.

Enhanced Advising System School: Bellingham Technical College

BTC’s Enhanced Advising and New Student Orientation interventions have evolved into an integrated student support program over the past four years. This work has resulted in the development of a new student entry process that includes mandatory small group advising and registration sessions, a new student orientation event, an enhanced College Success Foundations course that is required for students placing into developmental course levels, an advising case management structure that is based on program of interest, integrated advising and career services, and a robust Early Alert system. This enhanced student support system was implemented in Fall 2013 and has been increasingly bolstered by BTC’s Communication Relationship Management (CRM) system. BTC has implemented Hobson’s Connect CRM module (which serves prospective students) and is in the process of implementing the Retain and AgileGrad modules (which serve enrolled students). These CRM systems are powerful tools for BTC and have enabled the ongoing transformation of its entry and advising services, including: 1) helping the college shift from a reactive, walk-in advising system to a proactive, case management model where advisors are linked to students within program clusters throughout the student’s pathway; 2) implementing a robust Early Alert warning system for struggling students; and 3) increasing the college’s ability to offer academic planning tools that can be used by any student, faculty or staff member. BTC representatives have hosted teams from peer campuses interested in learning more about BTC’s enhanced system, and intervention leaders have presented information about this new system at multiple state and national conferences and meetings over the past two years.

Advising staff are currently implementing a CRM module (AgileGrad) that will help staff and students create more robust and long-term academic and graduation plans. Staff are mapping out student support process flows to help identify what students experience in their enrollment and advising journey (and when) in order to help ensure consistency of student experiences and identify where improvements might be made. Intervention leads and support staff plan to look at focus group results and other data to assess what types of advising services may be most effective. Staff will also look at disaggregated student outcomes and other data to identify specific groups of students for whom specialized or intensive advising processes might be appropriate. Stakeholders will continue to identify issues or gaps in systems integration, procedures or policies that could act as stumbling-blocks for the new advising system.

Data show promising results: from Fall 2014 to Fall 2015, pre-program students who met with an advisor were retained at a rate 17% higher than those who did not meet with an advisor, and program students were retained at a rate 35% higher than those ATD INSTITUTIONAL POLICY DATA BASE 2 who did not meet with an advisor. In the 2014-15 academic year, first quarter preprogram students who met with an advisor were 26% more likely to continue into their second quarter than those students who did not meet with an advisor

*ATD Network colleges can download and complete the Institutional Policy Form and send both the form and their existing institutional policies to ATD will collect and upload these documents to the appropriate policy folders within the Database on ATD Connect.

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