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14 colleges earn 'Leader College' distinction

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Fourteen community colleges have recently attained the “Leader College” distinction from Achieving the Dream (ATD), joining more than 50 other two-year colleges recognized for raising persistence and completion rates and closing achievement gaps.

Each of the colleges approaches student success differently, but with the guidance of the ATD model and its coaches, they all implement data-informed programs and policies to build long-term, institution-wide commitment to student success, according to ATD. Successful efforts across many of the Leaders Colleges include college readiness programs, mandatory new student orientation, student success courses, developmental course redesign, curriculum redesign and intensive and individualized advising.

The following are examples from the new Leader Colleges on their efforts:

  • Bay de Noc Community College (Michigan) increased success rates in gateway English courses from 69 percent in 2005 to 74 percent in 2012. The improvement is linked to the expansion of its First-Year Experience course, a redesign of the college's orientation and advising system, improvements development English courses and professional development opportunities for most of the faculty and staff. The college more than doubled the number of development education students served through First-Year Experience course, 20 percent of students in 2009, to 42 percent in 2011.

  • Central Piedmont Community College (North Carolina) increased course completion rates for all students from 65 percent in 2007 to 72 percent in 2011, and term-to-term retention from 69 percent in 2006 to 83 percent in 2011. The successes 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 (Maryland) increased success rates in developmental and gateway English courses substantially through an accelerated English developmental sequence. Students in the program have increased their completion rates from 30 percent to 74 percent.

  • College of the Ouachitas (Arkansas) increased graduation and transfer rates for all students from 43 percent in 2008-09 to 51 percent in 2011-12. A multi-faceted approach to address the first-year experience of all students was crucial to its success. The program 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 black males.

  • Davidson County Community College (North Carolina) increased the percentage of students successfully completing developmental education courses through student coaching, requiring a student success course, increasing the number of full-time faculty devoted to teaching developmental education and changing its course withdrawal policy. This resulted in an substantial increase in students completing all developmental math, English and reading courses within one year.

  • Elgin Community College (Illinois) increased overall fall-to-spring retention from 67 percent in 2006 to 78 percent in 2010. Disaggregated data for black and Hispanic students also increased: from 51 percent to 67 percent for black students, from 67 percent to 80 percent for Hispanic students, and 72 percent to 78 percent for developmental education students from 2006 to 2010. The college credits the establishment of a formal partnership with four public school districts, the redesign of the first-year experience supports f6or all incoming degree- or certificate-seeking students and changes to developmental education.

  • Greenville Technical College (South Carolina) increased student fall-to-spring persistence for all students from 63 percent in 2007-08 to 73 percent in 2011-12. The persistence was particularly impressive for black students, increasing from 58 percent in 2007-08 to 71 percent in 2011-12. The college credits the success to scaling up its new student orientation to reach 95 percent of new students.

  • The Lone Star College System (Texas) increased persistence rates for all students from 2006 to 2011. In addition, the college is closing achievement gaps between student subgroups. In 2006, the persistence rate of white students exceeded the persistence rate of black student by 3 percentage points (67 percent and 64 percent). Today, 69 percent of white students persist and 72 percent of black students persist from fall to spring.

  • National Park Community College (Arkansas) increased fall- to-spring retention of Pell Grant recipients in their student success course from 61 percent (average 2004-07) to 74 percent in 2010- 11. This improvement is associated with the college’s first-year success course called College Seminar that is required for all full-time, degree-seeking students.

  • Springfield Technical Community College (Massachusetts) boosted fall-to-spring retention rates for ATD students from 69 percent in 2008-2009 to 77 percent in 2011-2012. Retention rates also climbed for white students, Hispanic students and black students. Officials credit the college’s intrusive advising model.

  • Temple College (Texas) increased the course completion rates of developmental students from 54 percent in 2007-08 to 56 percent in 2011-2012. Credit goes to a new 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 (Texas) increased completion of developmental courses for first-time-in-college students from 43 percent in 2006 to 54 percent in 2011. The college focused on reorganizing developmental education, requiring weekly attendance in tutorial lab sessions for all developmental education students and providing access to tutorial assistance through multiple formats.

  • Trident Technical College (South Carolina) increased developmental and gateway math course completion from 40 percent in 2006 to 45 percent in 2011. Successful completion of developmental courses has increased from 35 percent in 2006 to 40 percent in 2011. Successful strategies to address the variety of math students’ needs include: changes in placement criteria, altering instructional methods and providing more support both in and outside the classroom.

  • University of Hawai’i Community Colleges increased completion of first-time developmental math students in their first year from 54 percent in 2007 to 60 percent in 2010. The colleges increased the completion rate for first-time Native Hawaiian students from 48 percent in 2007 to 59 percent in 2010, closing the achievement gap between Native Hawaiian students and their peers. This increase is associated with redesigned developmental math.
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