Looking Back at 2018

As we begin our 15th year leading the nation’s most comprehensive higher education reform movement for student success, we took a brief look back at highlights from 2018.

New Services Increase Student Learning, Persistence, and Completion

In the fall, we launched our holistic student supports approach nationwide, including intensive in-person coaching for 11 colleges, virtual coaching for colleges in two states, and in-person institutes for colleges in four states. Our second annual ATD Holistic Student Supports Institute brought more than 320 colleagues to St. Louis to participate in a four-day intensive working institute designed to support institutional teams in examining student movement through their institution and designing and executing a coherent strategy for designing a student support model that supports the whole student. At the HSS Institute we launched the new HSS Toolkit, which provides evidence-based, practitioner tested tools, tips, and guides that help an institution from initial exploration of their needs through to successful evaluation and refinement.  See our Wakelet story to learn more.

New Coaching Model Provides Customization

We developed a full suite of options for colleges in the ATD Network to use professional coaching to meet their changing needs, leverage strengths identified on their Institutional Capacity Assessment Tool results, and bolster capacity where needed to implement reforms and guide continuous improvement. As part of the new model, we are bringing more subject matter expert coaches on staff. Dr. Laurie Fladd and Shauna Davis, community college leaders who bring experience in redesigning student onboarding and advising, change leadership, technology improvements, joined us as Holistic Student Supports coaches. Learn more about them here. A grant from the William and Flora Hewlett Foundation will enable us to increase our coaches’ knowledge of best practices in building community colleges’ diversity, equity, and inclusion. Read about the DEI Organizational Effectiveness grant here.

2018 Cohort Expands and Strengthens the ATD Network

A group of 21 colleges joined the national ATD Network, the most unique and among the largest cohort in ATD’s history, including eight colleges from Tennessee and two colleges funded by The Woodward Hines Education Foundation. In June, 2018 cohort teams spent three days at the annual Kickoff Institute in Cleveland, learning about ATD’s approach, a capacity-building framework and companion self-assessment tool that enables colleges to pinpoint their strengths and areas for improvement across seven institutional capacities that are needed to facilitate change. Meet the 2018 Cohort.

Reports and Guidebooks Provide Guidance from the Field

Graduates of ATD Colleges “Thriving”
The report Measuring What Matters explores the extent to which community colleges dedicated to student success make a significant difference in the lives of their graduates after college, using new indicators of success developed by Gallup. The study was conducted by Gallup with support from Strada Education Network and shows that institutions affiliated with Achieving the Dream are outpacing peer institutions not associated with the ATD Network when it comes to helping more students get better jobs, live better lives, and have good experiences in college. Graduates of colleges affiliated with ATD are more likely to be “thriving” defined as well-being that is strong and consistent in a particular aspect of life on four measures.

Building Resilience in Students
A guidebook, Building Resilience: A How-to Guidebook on Integrating Resiliency Competencies Into Curriculum, was developed by seven colleges in ATD’s Northeast Resiliency Consortium as a resource for practitioners to help community college students develop resiliency in academics and in life. The colleges collaborated to create a competency model, along with a robust set of principles, strategies, resources, and guidelines for helping students develop strong resiliency. The Resiliency Competency Model outlines the knowledge, skills, and resources students can learn to use to adapt to change.

OER Degree Initiative Year 2 Findings
A study released at the 2018 National OpenEd Conference examined implementation of ATD’s Open Education Resources (OER) Degree Initiative found significant benefits to instruction and student learning experiences as well as savings for students who used OER. The study, Participant Experiences and Financial Impacts: Findings from Year 2 of Achieving the Dream’s OER Degree Initiative, reported that students who use OER find them to be accessible, relevant, and engaging. Over 60 percent of students reported that the overall quality of their learning experience in an OER course was higher in comparison to a typical, non-OER course. The research, conducted by SRI International and rpk GROUP, is the second in a series of studies on OER implementation released by ATD. Read more about the report in the Wakelet story.

Understanding the Needs of Part-Time Faculty
Understanding the Needs of Part-Time Faculty at Six Community Colleges, released by the Community College Research Center, analyzes survey data from more than 250 adjunct faculty and interview and focus group data from almost 60 full- and part-time faculty at colleges participating in ATD’s Engaging Adjunct Faculty in the Student Success Movement initiative. The study found that nearly three-fourths of adjunct faculty who completed a survey reported extreme or moderate satisfaction with their jobs. They also reported a strong commitment to community colleges and their students, borne out by the length of time they have worked at their institutions.


TCUs and ATD Enhance Their Learning About Equity Through Their Engagement

In 2018,  Tribal Colleges and Universities (TCUs) new to the ATD Network began their deep dive into understanding the importance and use of disaggregated data to identify at-risk students and target and evaluate interventions to improve outcomes among various subgroups of students. Because of their work, we are learning more about how TCUs create conditions for the success of their students through intentional design and are encouraging TCUs to share their expertise within the ATD Network.  We will be incorporating lessons learned in our equity work in 2019. 

President and CEO Delivers 2018 North Carolina State University Dallas Herring Lecture 

Achieving the Dream President and CEO Dr. Karen A. Stout delivered the 2018 Dallas Herring Lecture at the North Carolina State University College of Education. In her speech, The Urgent Case: Centering Teaching and Learning in the Next Generation of Community College Redesign, Dr. Stout called excellent teaching essential to improving student outcomes and argued that reform-minded community colleges should make support for dynamic, engaging teaching a central element of their institutional change efforts. She identified three key organizing principles to developing a culture of teaching and learning excellence: 1) Full time and adjunct faculty using inclusive evidence-based instructional practices to foster student learning; 2) Engaging students as active learners in an accessible, empowering, personalized, and supportive academic climate; 3) Institutions creating an organizational culture that embraces professional learning for continuous improvement. The speech was livestreamed and can be viewed here.

Two Colleges Earn Leah Meyer Austin Award

Two outstanding institutions in the Network were selected to receive ATD’s highest recognition for achievement. Odessa College and Texarkana College received the 2018 Leah Meyer Austin Award for their exceptional progress in creating a student-focused culture. The national award presented annually at ATD’s DREAM convening recognizes institutions that have demonstrated outstanding progress in designing a student-focused culture and aligning institutional strategies to promote student success.

Recognizing Exceptional Colleges with new Distinction

To encourage continuous improvement and recognize Network colleges that have sustained and improved their reform work over a long period of time, we added a new level of Network recognition. A Leader College of Distinction acknowledges colleges in the ATD Network that meet new, higher student outcomes criteria. For instance, colleges must show improvement on three student outcome metrics including at least one lagging indicator such as completion or transfer. In addition, they must show the narrowing of equity gaps on at least two metrics. These more rigorous requirements are meant to motivate sustained and aggressive reform efforts that result in far greater student success and equity. Learn more about Leader College of Distinction here.

Welcoming New Chair, Honoring Founding Board of Directors Chair

In February, Dr. Pam Eddinger, President of Bunker Hill Community College and a leading voice in the national conversation about student success, began her role as the new Chair of the Achieving the Dream Board of Directors. Learn about her educational journey and passion for community college students in A Conversation with the New Board Chair. She succeeded Dr. Robert G. Templin Jr., the founding board chair who has served since 2007. At its winter meeting, the Board of Directors passed a resolution that conveys upon Dr. Templin the designation Board of Director Emeritus, effective with the end of his service on the ATD Board in June 2019. Read more here.

DREAM Convening Breaks Record for Attendance

The annual DREAM convening in Nashville was the largest in our 15-year history. More than 2,300 practitioners and thought leaders immersed themselves in issues critical to student success. A record number of Tribal Colleges and Universities (126 individuals from 33 TCUs) participated in the four-day convening. Adding the critical student voice to discussions and presentations, we were proud to have our 2018 DREAM Scholars participate at the convening. They are an outstanding group of students from whom we learned so much during the week. You can meet them here.

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