Connecticut State Colleges and Universities (CSCU) President Mark Ojakian today announced that eight of Connecticut’s community colleges have joined the 2019 cohort of the Achieving the Dream (ATD) National Network, which consists of more than 220 colleges in 43 states dedicated to improving student success. The colleges will work collaboratively to implement, align and scale cutting edge reforms, work with ATD coaches to build institutional capacity, and connect with peers to foster learning and share information. Four of Connecticut’s community colleges were already part of the ATD, bringing all 12 community colleges into the network.
“Improving student success continues to be our number one goal,” President Ojakian said. “Through Achieving the Dream, our community colleges will gain invaluable access to proven, data-driven best practices, which will in turn ensure that our students receive not only the best possible education, but also the supports necessary to succeed. As we move toward a more sustainable governance structure, having our entire community college structure in the ATD network will be invaluable.”
“The strength of local and regional economies, our ability to rebuild the middle class, and the possibility that a new generation will achieve their goals depends on community colleges,” said Dr. Karen A. Stout, president and CEO of Achieving the Dream. “Colleges that join the ATD Network show an exceptional commitment to becoming the kind of institution that will lead the nation into the future.”
ATD offers a capacity-building framework and companion self-assessment that allow colleges to pinpoint strengths and areas for improvement across seven institutional capacities in areas such as leadership and vision, teaching and learning, and data and technology. ATD’s approach integrates and aligns existing college success efforts and offers valuable support in preparing for accreditation, fostering conversation about goals, and making bold, holistic institution-wide changes because initiatives that don’t reach most of a college’s student body have not shown strong results.
A team from CSCU will meet with leaders from 15 other colleges in Phoenix, Arizona in June to plan the launch of their ATD work. The work at CSCU, coordinated by the CSCU Student Success Center, will focus on the implementation of Guided Pathways, a framework for reform that helps students efficiently complete credentials, transfer, and attain jobs with value in the labor market.
ATD Network colleges report data using metrics that answer critical questions about who attends college, who succeeds in and after college and how college is financed. To advance goals of social mobility and equity, the metrics provide information on how low income and other underserved students fare. These metrics are categorized into performance metrics, efficiency metrics and equity metrics at points during the student experience from access through post-college outcomes.
As colleges in the new cohort progress, they may apply to participate in initiatives supported by philanthropic funding and managed by ATD. These initiatives help incubate new ideas that help colleges refine practices based on evidence of what works and allow ATD to disseminate knowledge to the broader network and the field. New initiatives address the challenge of engaging adjunct faculty more deeply as key members of colleges’ workforces and implementing degree programs using only open educational resources (OER).
Connecticut’s Achieving the Dream 2019 Cohort consists of Asnuntuck Community College, Manchester Community College, Middlesex Community College, Naugatuck Valley Community College, Northwestern Connecticut Community College, Quinebaug Valley Community College, Three Rivers Community College, and Tunxis Community College.
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