2019 Leah Meyer Austin Award - Amarillo College

Amarillo College, one of two 2019 Leah Meyer Austin Award winners, exemplifies how radically an institution can transform itself when it truly understands the needs of its students.

Since 2014, the Hispanic-serving institution has made sweeping changes in its use of data and its ability to quickly and decisively address poverty as the issue students say most affects their success. The college introduced predictive analytics to understand trends in student performance and identify where crucial improvements needed to be made. It redesigned developmental education to accelerate student progress and improve retention. Working with community partners, it launched a web of nonacademic interventions and holistic student supports to address the poverty barriers. The results have been significant gains in graduation rates among all students and key subpopulations.

The college has nearly doubled its three-year graduation rate from 13 percent for the fall 2011 cohort to 22 percent today for the fall 2015 cohort. During the same period, three-year graduation rates for Black  tudents increased fivefold, from 4 percent to 20 percent. For Hispanic students, rates moved from 15 percent to 22 percent; for first-generation students, from 12 percent to 21 percent; and for students receiving Pell Grants, from 14 percent to 23 percent. All student groups are now graduating at similar rates.

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