Five Institutions to Strengthen Student Success, Address Equity Challenges by Joining Achieving the Dream’s National Network

SILVER SPRING, MD  — Five community colleges are joining the 2021 cohort of the Achieving the Dream (ATD) Network to improve equitable outcomes for students, bolster student retention and completion, and expand holistic supports to meet students’ evolving needs. 

The colleges are joining ATD after the COVID-19 pandemic laid bare the nation’s health and economic inequalities and the resulting economic fallout disproportionally hit working class families and racially minoritized communities.

“Colleges that partner with ATD must be both aspirational in how they engage change and be willing to take a hard look at where we are falling short,” Dr. Karen A. Stout, ATD president and CEO, said. “For ATD, that begins with centering equity within our institutions, understanding our students and their lived experiences, and tearing down structures and policies that are barriers especially for racially marginalized students.”

The five institutions have shown that student success and achieving equitable outcomes is at the core of their work. They will partner with ATD over the next three years to expand the use of best practices for student success and equity, receive guidance in transforming to a student-centered institution, and build a culture of data to identify barriers to student success, using qualitative and quantitative evidence to drive changes in policies and practices across the institution.

Teams from each of the five colleges will convene at a Virtual Kickoff Institute Aug. 3 to 4, 2021, which will set the stage for their work as ATD Network institutions. College teams will meet virtually with their ATD coaches and begin to organize their student success work for the year, including preparing for campus-based Kickoff work in the fall. Their Kickoff experience will include an introduction to ATD’s Institutional Capacity Framework, which helps colleges align all of their student success initiatives and interventions.

“We’re excited to work with this exceptional cohort as they take on a broad range of challenges to improve equitable student success,” Stout said. “The colleges have already begun to work on crucial issues to become more equity focused, data driven, and intentional in addressing students’ lifelong learning needs in ways that better promote social and economic mobility for adults of all ages in our communities.”

The Achieving the Dream 2020 Cohort includes: 

Southeast Arkansas College (AR) is working to become more relevant to the community and respond to the shifting needs of the local economy. Launching a broad range of new programs this fall in fields like cybersecurity, logistics, two-year teaching preparation, and commercial transportation, the institution also seeks to expand its work in providing holistic student supports and to strengthen professional learning to strengthen the capacity for improvement within the institution.

Middlesex Community College (MA) ultimately seeks to have an institutional culture that broadly values and uses available evidence to achieve equitable outcomes. The institution believes that the ATD Network and resources will provide the college with a valuable framework for this work, strengthening its ability to engage the entire college community in using data for decision-making at all levels, and improving student advising, pathways, retention, and making integrated student supports more holistic to address the broad, diverse needs of its students.

East Mississippi Community College (MS) hopes to make advances in clarifying an institutional vision for student success and expand the culture of evidence, helping staff and stakeholders better understand needed changes in processes and policies to strengthen results in retention and completion. The college aims to continue to learn best practices from peer institutions and transform to become a student-centered institution that increases student success and strengthens student pathways.

Central Ohio Technical College (COTC) – (OH) is embarking on a new two-year completion plan (as required by the state of Ohio, with a focus on retention and completion). Striving to ensure that it is serving all students in equitable ways, the institution will launch new systems, processes, and procedures to better serve first-generation students, racially minoritized students, and underserved populations. COTC will seek to increase completion metrics for part-time students by 10 percent over the next two years and strive to improve retention efforts with specific focus on improving part-time student retention by seven percent over the next two years.

Madison College, also known as MATC (WI) seeks to make data more central to decision-making, including  building leading indicators that identify early progress in advancing student success outcomes. It is working to integrate data across multiple data systems, improve enrollment processes, advance a care team model of student services, and to involve faculty in developing classroom engagement and instructional strategies to support the success of all students.

Achieving the Dream (ATD) leads a growing network of more than 300 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 equity 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 45 states and the District of Columbia to reach more than 4 million community college students. Follow us on Twitter, Facebook, and LinkedIn.

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