Continuous Improvement for College Completion: Arkansas Builds a System-Level Strategy for Community College Student Success

This report details the development, implementation, and preliminary impact of the Arkansas System-Level Strategy for Student Success. Notably, for example, Arkansas’s community colleges improved their six-year graduation and transfer rates by five percentage points between 2006 and 2012. Additional reform efforts currently underway are helping to bolster college success and completion in Arkansas as well. Further, the System-Level Strategy constitutes a model of collaboration and continuous improvement that can be adopted in other states.

The report concludes with a series of recommendations for funders, policymakers, and institutions of higher learning. Among other specific suggestions, the report recommends that funders support a process that strengthens the capacity for change and brings it to scale rather than focuses too narrowly on a specific intervention or model. It suggests that state policymakers build their own intentional frameworks for student success instead of relying on off-the-shelf solutions. The report further recommends that, if necessary, institutions of higher learning build statewide coordinating entities to support student success.

Related resource:  This mini-documentary was posted on June 28, 2010 by the Winthrop Rockefeller Foundation. 

If Arkansas is to successfully compete in the 21st Century, the state must close the economic and education gaps in education, homeownership, business development, and health that have left Arkansas in the bottom five among states. The issue area that touches each of these areas most closely is educational attainment, which is why we chose to focus on Achieving the Dream: Community Colleges Count.

A secondary focus is grounded in the fact that a significant portion of Arkansas is rural. WRF wishes to convey the message that "rural matters" and is a critical component of Moving the Needle from poverty to prosperity.


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