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College organizations target student success

​SEATTLE—Six national organizations representing community college presidents, governing boards, students and faculty have agreed to work together to increase student completion rates.
 “We affirm the need for a dramatic increase in the number of Americans with postsecondary degrees and certifications to fulfill critical state and national goals,” according to the agreement signed April 20 by leaders of the organizations, which include the American Association of Community Colleges (AACC), Association of Community College Trustees, League for Innovation in the Community College, Phi Theta Kappa Honor Society, Center for Community College Student Engagement and the National Institute for Staff and Organizational Development. They signed the agreement at the annual AACC convention.
The document—"Democracy’s Colleges: Call to Action"—outlines the organizations' goals for the initiative and what the groups need to reach them. For example, the signers agree to commit to a change in institutional culture, from an emphasis on access only to one of access and success. They also commit to eliminating attainment gaps that separate students based on race, ethnicity and income. Promoting faculty and staff development using evidence-based education practice is another component of the agreement.
The organizations note that attaining the goals will require commitments from everyone at the college—administrators, trustees, students, faculty and staff and other stakeholders. The groups also will ask lawmakers to create policy conditions to enable, support and reward community colleges in their work to strengthen student success.
AACC President and CEO George Boggs said the collaborative effort will help two-year colleges reach President Barack Obama's goal of increasing the number of college completers by 5 million over the next decade.
"It's an ambitious challenge, but I think we can do it," he said.
The signing is the first step of the initiative, Boggs said. The next step is to encourage colleges and stakeholders, such as local chambers of commerce and community organizations, to sign similar committments.  
"I hope to see this expand around the country, campus by campus and community by community," Boggs said.