14 Achieving the Dream Institutions Earn Leader College Distinction

Emerging community college leaders join the ranks of now 66 Achieving the Dream Leader Colleges that are raising persistence and graduation rates and closing achievement gaps

Silver Spring, Maryland (November 13, 2012) – Achieving the Dream, Inc., a national nonprofit leading the nation’s most comprehensive non-governmental reform network for community college student success and completion, today announced that 14 Achieving the Dream Institutions have earned Leader College distinction. These emerging leaders join the ranks of now 66 institutions that have achieved Leader College status by raising persistence and completion rates and closing achievement gaps.

The new Leaders Colleges are:

“We are proud of these 14 institutions that have earned this respected distinction,” said Rachel Singer, Achieving the Dream Vice President for Community College Relations and Applied Research. “These Leader Colleges have raised the bar on promising practices that will impact policies to help more students succeed. They deserve recognition for their dedication to the student success movement.”

Leader Colleges are demonstrating the power of the Achieving the Dream Student-Centered Model of Institutional Improvement by raising persistence and graduation rates and closing achievement gaps. Each college approaches the work differently, but with the guidance of the model and Achieving the Dream Coaches, colleges implement data-informed programs and policies that build long-term, institution-wide commitment to student success. Examples include: college readiness programs, mandatory new student orientation, student success courses, developmental course redesign, curriculum redesign, and intensive and individualized advising.

"Elgin Community College is honored to be recognized as an Achieving the Dream Leader College," said Elgin Community College President David Sam. "Our faculty and staff have been working diligently to make data-informed decisions to help close achievement gaps and remove barriers for our students. This distinction affirms the outstanding leadership of our faculty members, administrators, staff, and Board of Trustees as they support our students in their daily efforts to achieve their dreams."

The following examples highlight the results these 14 colleges are seeing as they raise the bar to better serve their students:

  • Bay de Noc Community College increased success rates in gateway English courses from 69.1% in 2005 to 74.2% in 2012. This improvement is associated with the expansion of the First-Year Experience course, a redesign of the college's orientation and advising system, improvements to the Transitional Developmental English Courses and Transitional Reading Courses, and professional development to the majority of their faculty and staff. The First-Year Experience course has been scaled from serving 20.4% of developmental education students in Fall 2009 to serving 42.0% of developmental education students in Fall 2011.
  • Central Piedmont Community College increased student course completion rates for all students from 65% in Fall 2007 to 72% in the Fall 2011, and term-to-term retention for IPEDS students from 69% in Fall 2006 to 83% in Fall 2011. These increases in student success are associated with a new pre-placement test prep program, a redesigned new student orientation, the development of an online student orientation, the implementation of case management advising system, a change in the early withdrawal policy, and a minority male mentoring program.
  • Community College of Baltimore County increased success rates in developmental and gateway English courses substantially through the development and implementation of an accelerated English developmental sequence. Students in the accelerated English program have increased their gateway successful completion rates from a baseline of 30% to 74% in Fall 2010. Community College of Baltimore County has become a national leader in accelerated developmental education and is currently working with community colleges across the country to replicate this acceleration strategy.
  • College of the Ouachitas increased graduation and transfer rates for all students from 43.2% in 2008-09 to 51.5% in 2011-12. This increase is associated with a multi-faceted approach to address the First-Year Experience of all students, which includes mandatory new student orientation and registration, enrollment in a credit-bearing freshman seminar, developmental math redesign, curricular redesign, and design and implementation of a social networking/support program called Men on a Mission that targets student success and retention of African American males.
  • Davidson County Community College increased the percentage of students successfully completing developmental education courses. The college did this through student coaching, requiring a student success course, increasing the number of full-time faculty devoted to teaching developmental education, and changing their course withdrawal policy. This resulted in an increase in students completing all developmental math courses within one year from 20.4% in 2007-08 to 28% in 2010-11; an increase in students successfully completing all developmental English courses from 27.8% in 2007-08 to 38.7% in 2010-11; and an increase in the percentage of students completing developmental reading within one year from 25.7% to 43%.
  • Elgin Community College increased overall fall to spring retention from 67% in 2006 to 78% in 2010. Disaggregated data for Black and Hispanic students also increased: from 51% to 67% for Black students, from 67% to 80% for Hispanic students, and 72% to 78% for developmental education students from 2006 to 2010. Successful course completion also increased overall from 67% of course enrollments in 2006 to 72% in 2012. The number of completers (degrees and certificates total) has increase by 11% (from 9% to 20%) from 2006 - 2008. These remarkable gains are associated with the establishment of a formal partnership between Elgin Community College and four public school districts in their service areas, the redesign of the First-Year Experience supports for all incoming degree- or certificate-seeking students, and a series of changes to developmental education.
  • Greenville Technical College increased student fall to spring persistence for all students from 62.5% in 2007-08 to 72.7% in 2011-12. This persistence was particularly impressive for African American students with the increase going from 57.5% in 2007-08 to 71.3% in 2011-12. This improvement is associated with the college’s New Student Orientation that has been scaled to reach 95% of new Greenville Technical College students.
  • Lone Star College System increased persistence rates for all students from 2006 to 2011. In addition, the college is closing and narrowing achievement gaps between student subgroups.. In 2006, the persistence rate of White students exceeded the persistence rate of Black student by three percentage points (67% and 64%). Today, 69% of White students persist and 72% of Black students persist from fall-to-spring. The persistence gap between Hispanic students and Black students has narrowed from five percentage points to one percentage points (fall-to-spring) between 2006 and 2010 (from 64% to 72% persistence for Black students and 69% to 73% persistence for Hispanic students).
  • National Park Community College increased fall to spring retention of Pell Grant recipients in their student success course from 60.5% (average 2004-2007) to 73.8% in 2010- 2011. This improvement is associated with their first year success course called College Seminar that is required for all full-time, degree-seeking students. The success of the College Seminar course stems from a redesign of the course to utilize cooperative learning strategies, the On Course curriculum, and a module on fiscal responsibility. The course has also been scaled up to reach 85% of the college’s students.
  • Springfield Technical Community College increased fall to spring retention rates for the Achieving the Dream cohort students from 69% in 2008-2009 to 77% in 2011-2012. Retention rates also climbed for white students (76% to 80%), Hispanic students (62% to 73%), and African-American students (65% to 74%). This improvement is associated with the college’s Intrusive Advising model.
  • Temple College increased the course completion rates of developmental students from 53.8% in 2007-08 to 56.1% in 2011-2012. These success rates increased significantly for populations that were at high risk of dropping out, including males of color (African American students: 38%-44% and Hispanic students: 54%-59%) and students who receive Pell grants (50%-55%). This increase is associated with the creation of a centralized student success division, professional development, continuous orientation, and the implementation of Zero Week between the end of registration and the first day of classes (when the college holds student success workshops for students and planning time for faculty and staff).
  • Texarkana College increased successful completion of developmental courses for first-time-in-college students from 43% in 2006 to 54% in 2011. This improvement is associated with the college’s student success course, reorganizing developmental education at the college, required weekly attendance in tutorial lab sessions for all developmental education students, and providing access to individualized tutorial assistance through multiple formats.
  • Trident Technical College increased developmental and gateway math course completion from 40.3% in 2006 to 44.9% in 2011. Successful completion of developmental courses has increased from 35.4% in 2006 to 40.3% in 2011. Successful completion of gateway courses has increased from 46.9% in 2006 to 54.8% in 2011. These improvements are associated with several strategies to address the variety of math students’ needs including: changes in placement criteria, altering instructional methods, and providing more support both in and outside the classroom. These interventions have been scaled to reach 75% of the developmental and gateway math students.
  • University of Hawai’i Community Colleges increased the successful completion of first-time developmental math students in their first year from 53.8% in 2007 to 59.8% in 2010. The colleges increased the same rate for Native Hawaiian students from 48.4% in 2007 to 58.9% in 2010, effectively closing the achievement gap between Native Hawaiian students and their peers in this measurement. This increase is associated with redesigned developmental math.

"This prestigious designation as a leader college certainly affirms our commitment to helping students achieve success,” said John Morton, Vice President for Community Colleges, University of Hawai'i, “and recognizes the perseverance of our faculty and staff in making data-informed decisions in closing achievement gaps and removing barriers for our students, particularly Native Hawaiian students and low-income students."

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 at least one student success intervention that is advancing student outcomes. The intervention is 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. For more information on the Leader Colleges, click here.

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.

Achieving the Dream, Inc.
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 nearly 200 colleges, more than 100 coaches and advisors, and 15 state policy teams - working throughout 32 states and the District of Columbia – the Achieving the Dream National Reform Network helps 3.75 million community college students have a better chance of realizing greater economic opportunity and achieving their dreams.


Press Release Files

LeaderCollegeReleaseFINAL.pdf345.21 KB

Achieving the Dream (ATD) leads a growing network of more than 277 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 44 states and the District of Columbia to reach more than 4 million community college students. Follow us on Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, and Wakelet.

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