2013 Leader Colleges Announced

Broad faculty engagement, professional development, and an overall culture change at the institution are key to improving student persistence and completion rates

Press Contact: Lauren Lewis, 917-613-6419, llewis@achievingthedream.org

Silver Spring, Maryland (August 20, 2013) – Achieving the Dream today announced that eight Achieving the Dream Institutions have earned Leader College distinction for showing evidence of measurable improvements in student achievements. These leaders are showing promising progress in their student success efforts, proving that a concerted effort on broad faculty engagement, professional development, and an overall culture change at the institution is producing tangible results by increasing student persistence and closing achievement gaps.

The new 2013 Leaders Colleges are:

  • Austin Community College (Austin, TX)
  • Danville Area Community College (Danville, IL)
  • Harper College (Palatine, IL)
  • Macomb Community College (Warren, MI)
  • North Central Michigan College (Petoskey, MI)
  • Odessa College (Odessa, TX)
  • Tarrant County College (Fort Worth, TX)
  • Tyler Junior College (Tyler, TX)

"It is with great honor that we announce the 2013 Leader Colleges," said Carol Lincoln, Achieving the Dream Senior Vice President. "These Leader Colleges are truly focused on improvement at scale. They are working hard to ensure that they are moving the needle for whole cohorts of students and should be given recognition for their relentless efforts and promising achievements."

"North Central Michigan College’s faculty and staff have been working hard to increase the success of our students and close achievement gaps," said North Central Michigan College President Cameron Brunet-Koch. “We are honored to be recognized as an Achieving the Dream Leader College and will continue our efforts to help our students achieve their goals."

The 2013 Leader Colleges are making strides in the national movement to increase student persistence and close achievement gaps, demonstrating the power of the Achieving the Dream Student-Centered Model of Institutional Improvement. Each college approaches the work differently, but with the guidance of the model and Achieving the Dream Coaches, colleges not only systemically change the way they operate but also implement key student supports that align with their overall policy and institutional systems, such as college readiness programs, mandatory new student orientation, student success courses, developmental course redesign, curriculum redesign, and intensive and individualized advising.

The following is an example of the success the new 2013 Achieving the Dream Leader Colleges are producing through their unrelenting focus on improving student success rates:

  • Odessa College (Odessa, TX), implemented various student supports based on its data, including the development of a mandatory student success course, the implementation of a Drop Rate Improvement Program, and the expansion of faculty engagement and professional development efforts. 

Results include: 

  • Improved course completion rates to over 90% for every student subgroup in the Arts and Sciences division.
  • Increased the percent of first-time-in-college students successfully completing courses with a “C” or better from 65% in 2009-2010 to 69% in 2012-2013. 

“These data suggest that our approach of developing interventions is working,” said Odessa College President Gregory Williams. “We developed interventions that create systemic change to affect all students and we are encouraged by the data showing all Achieving the Dream student cohorts – gender, ethnic, age, and economic status – are showing improved student success rates.”

*Please scroll down for the complete list of accomplishments of the new 2013 Leader Colleges!

Leader College Criteria
In order to be eligible for Leader College distinction, colleges must demonstrate commitment to and progress on the principles and values of Achieving the Dream: committed leadership, use of evidence to improve programs and services, broad engagement, and systemic institutional improvement all guided by a student-centered vision focused on equity and excellence. To meet the Achieving the Dream Leader College criteria for performance, colleges must present evidence of improvement in student achievement on one of the measures below over three or more years:

  • Successfully complete remedial or developmental instruction and advance to credit-bearing courses
  • Enroll in and successfully complete the initial college-level or gateway courses in subjects such as math and English
  • Complete the courses they take with a grade of "C" or better
  • Persistence from one term to the next
  • Earn a certificate or associate degree

Additionally, each Leader College has successfully implemented a student success initiative that is advancing student outcomes of sufficient scale to benefit a substantial proportion of the total target student population. Indeed, these institutions have met high standards of practice and performance and Achieving the Dream expects these colleges to support other colleges within the Achieving the Dream community of learners.

The Achieving the Dream Model
Achieving the Dream Institutions commit to the Achieving the Dream Student-Centered Model of Institutional Improvement. Based on four principles, the model frames the overall work of helping more students, particularly low-income students and students of color, stay in school and earn a college certificate or degree. Each college approaches the work differently, but Achieving the Dream’s five-step process provides practical guidelines for keeping the focus where it belongs and building momentum over time. Throughout the process, Achieving the Dream Coaches offer customized support and help each college’s core team implement data-informed programs and policies that build long-term, institution-wide commitment to student success.

Introducing the 2013 Leader Colleges 
The following examples highlight the results these eight colleges are seeing as they raise the bar to better serve their students:

Austin Community College (Austin, TX), has engaged faculty in a number of efforts to improve student success. Faculty in all instructional departments participate in a Faculty Coach program that teaches them to analyze and use data to create department improvement plans. Faculty and staff in Instruction and Student Services departments are collaborating with students to develop new student success strategies and are leading an initiative to ensure broad stakeholder participation in the creation of a new First Year Experience plan.

Through its efforts Austin Community College is seeing promising results:

  • Increased fall-to-spring persistence for all first-time-in-college (FTIC) students from 71.4% in 2009-10 to 73.2% in 2012-13.
  • Implemented a mandatory orientation that currently reaches 76% of all FTIC students.

Danville Area Community College (Danville, IL), focused its strategic planning process on understanding and addressing policies and procedures that could act as barriers to student success with a strong focus on first-year students. Deeper faculty engagement is evident in a number of efforts including opportunities for training in cooperative learning, a Teaching Excellence Academy, and a Part-Time Faculty Academy devoted to introducing new student engagement strategies for the classroom. Despite expected state budget cuts, the college funded two data specialist positions, enabling faster data collection and analysis and a stronger role for data in decision-making.

In addition to the extensive faculty engagement efforts, Danville Area Community College implemented targeted initiatives such as mandatory orientation, no late registration, scaling and redesign of the college success course, and restructuring of the assessment procedures in gateway courses. Through these efforts the college is seeing promising results, such as:

  • Increased success rates collectively in math and English gatekeeper courses from 56% in 2008-09 to 66% in 2011-12.
  • Decreased math and English gatekeeper courses achievement gap between minority and white students from 14% in 2008-09 to only 3% in 2011-12.

Harper College (Palatine, IL), has formed a unique, joint partnership with area high schools focused on decreasing the number of high school students who are placed in college developmental classes, especially in math. The partnership has led to college readiness testing in math for high school juniors, increased data sharing, and aligning high school math courses with Harper’s math curriculum.

Harper College has also implemented various student supports, changed its testing policies and practices, established a Distinguished Chair for Teaching Excellence, and created an Academy for Teaching Excellence with professional development activities for full-time and adjunct faculty focused on pedagogy and technology. Through its efforts, Harper College has:

  • Increased the college readiness of local high school students from 48.8% in 2008-09 to 57.2% in 2011-12.
  • Increased success rates for all students in developmental math from 39.34% in 2008-09 to 43% in 2011-12. This includes an impressive 10% increase for low-income students from 39.09 % in 2008-09 to 49.11% in 2011-12.

Macomb Community College (Warren, MI), faculty are deeply engaged in the college’s student success work. Faculty and staff from the academic departments and students services are working together closely on joint initiatives and both full-time and adjunct faculty are participating in professional development activities intended to increase student success.

Based on the college’s student persistence data, the college instituted a new student success course and redesigned several of its college-level math courses. Through its efforts the college is seeing promising results, such as:

  • Increased successful completion of gateway math courses from 15.75% in 2009-10 to 19.47% in 2012-13 for all first-time enrollees at Macomb.
  • Increased overall course completion rate for the students taking gateway math from 63.5% in 2009-10 to 66.8% in 2012-13.

North Central Michigan College (Petoskey, MI), has made significant efforts to engage its adjunct faculty, employing a full-time Director of Adjunct Faculty and forming an Adjunct Advisory Council. It also provides a number of resources for adjunct faculty engagement and professional development, including orientation, special training sessions, and monthly workshops on classroom management and pedagogy.

At the same time, the college revised its policies and procedures and made strategic improvements to instructional offerings and student services including: the development of a student success course, the establishment of mandatory college orientation, mandatory advising for developmentally placed students, math curriculum redesign, and an accelerated developmental English sequence. The college is seeing promising results from its efforts, including:

  • Increased the credit course completion success rate for all credential-seeking students from 73.5% in 2009-2010 to 77.6% in 2012-2013. An increase was also seen for all subgroups (white, Native American, female, male, low-income, not low-income).
  • Decreased the achievement gap between Native American and white students from 7.5% to 2%. Native American students represent the largest minority group at the college.

Odessa College (Odessa, TX), has made great progress in engaging faculty in data-based decision-making and student success initiatives. All department heads have access to and support for using data and the college’s professional development has expanded to focus on increased training on the use of data and research to improve programs and services. Odessa College implemented various student supports based on its data, including the development of a mandatory student success course and the implementation of a Drop Rate Improvement Program (DRIP), a data-driven strategy used to increase the student-teacher relationship and increase the attendance of students.

Through its efforts Odessa has seen promising results despite enrollment fluctuations due to the local oil and gas industry boom in the area the college serves:

  • Improved course completion rates to over 90% for every student subgroup after DRIP was implemented in the Arts and Sciences division.
  • Increased the percent of first-time-in-college (FTIC) students successfully completing courses with a “C” or better from 65% in 2009-2010 to 69% in 2012-2013.

Tarrant County College (Fort Worth, TX), has made efforts to involve faculty members in improving the classroom experience, with faculty reviewing and refining curricula and syllabi and serving on planning councils and teams focusing on student success. The College has implemented a number of efforts, including new student orientation, a student success course, mandatory advising and case management for FTIC students, and a Math Emporium for the developmental math sequence, which is a faculty-led, computer-assisted learning environment that accelerates course completion time.

Tarrant County College is seeing tangible results through its efforts, including:

  • Increased successful completion of developmental math for Hispanic students from 25.49% in 2008-09 to 30.98% in 2011-12.
  • Increased successful completion of developmental reading for Hispanic students from 47% in 2008-09 to 53% in 2011-12.

Tyler Junior College (Tyler, TX), is working to consolidate professional development efforts and to promote the use of data in decision-making and innovation in teaching strategies. Using student success data in a faculty-driven decision, the college implemented a number of initiatives that changed the overall culture of the college. These included: a Civility Campaign to improve campus safety, developmental math redesign and modularization, the implementation of a student success course for developmentally placed students, early alert and mid-term grade reports, and career advising.

Tyler Junior College’s efforts have has positive effects on the success of its students. For example the college:

  • Increased the percentage of students successfully completing developmental course requirements in 2 years from 18% in 2008-09 to 25% in 2011-12
  • Increased the course completion rate of all new students from 61% in 2008-09 to 63% in 2011-12.
  • Increased course completion rates for new students referred to developmental math over 10% (from 48.3% in 2008-09 to 58.8% in 2011-12).
  • Increased course completion rates for new students referred to developmental English from 46.9% in 2008-09 to 58.57% in 2011-12.

Achieving the Dream, Inc. is a national nonprofit that is dedicated to helping more community college students, particularly low-income students and students of color, stay in school and earn a college certificate or degree. Evidence-based, student-centered, and built on the values of equity and excellence, Achieving the Dream is closing achievement gaps and accelerating student success nationwide by: 1) guiding evidence-based institutional improvement, 2) leading policy change, 3) generating knowledge, and 4) engaging the public. Conceived as an initiative in 2004 by Lumina Foundation and seven founding partner organizations, today, Achieving the Dream is leading the most comprehensive non-governmental reform network for student success in higher education history. With over 200 colleges, more than 100 coaches and advisors, and 15 state policy teams - working throughout 34 states and the District of Columbia – the Achieving the Dream National Reform Network helps 3.8 million community college students have a better chance of realizing greater economic opportunity and achieving their dreams.


Press Release Files

Achieving the Dream (ATD) leads a growing network of more than 220 community colleges committed to helping their students, particularly low-income students and students of color, achieve their goals for academic success, personal growth, and economic opportunity. ATD is making progress in closing academic achievement gaps and accelerating student success through a unique change process that builds each college’s institutional capacities in seven essential areas. ATD, along with nearly 75 experienced coaches and advisors, works closely with Network colleges in 41 states and the District of Columbia to reach more than 4 million community college students.

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