Community colleges that are a part of Achieving the Dream have shown they are committed to student success through a range of proven methodology. Those that are named leader colleges each year demonstrate exceptional standards of performance and practice, even among schools that have already been named as some of the top performers in the country. This year’s list of leader colleges provides a broad spectrum of community colleges spanning from coast to coast. We’ll take a look at some of the top community colleges on the 2011 Achieving the Dream leaders list and explore what it takes to become a part of this prestigious organization.
Four Principles Emphasized by Achieving the Dream
When it comes to improving student outcomes at community colleges across the country, Achieving the Dream subscribes to four basic principles that are highlighted on the organization’s website:
- Committed Leadership – This principle states that leaders of community colleges are committed to the success of students across all demographics, rather than simply focusing on enrollment numbers.
- Use of Evidence to Improve Programs and Services – Schools use data collected to determine gaps in student success and formulate effective strategies for bridging these gaps.
- Broad Engagement – The success of students at a community college is dependent on collaboration between faculty, administration and student services, as well as constructive feedback from students themselves.
- Systemic Institutional Improvement – Using the data collected, Achieving the Dream schools create and regularly evaluate programs designed to enhance student success.
While these four principles apply to all of the Achieving the Dream community colleges, some of the schools exceed the basic standards to become a leader school for the organization. These schools also demonstrate three years of sustained improvement in the area of academic success. This year; the 2011 Leader List included 23 institutions across the country, including a number of schools in Texas and Pennsylvania. Many other states nationwide have also been well represented in this list.
Bunker Hill Community College Makes the Leader List
One of the community colleges to make the leader list for 2011 is Bunker Hill Community College in Massachusetts. This college joined the Achieve the Dream ranks in 2007 and is one of only four Massachusetts schools to do so. According to a report at the Sacramento Bee, the school currently enrolls about 13,000 students at its two main campuses or one of its four satellite locations.
“The work of improving student success is very difficult, critically important and urgent,” William Trueheart, president and CEO of Achieving the Dream, told the Bee. “Bunker Hill Community College deserves enormous recognition for its focus on equity and excellence and for its extraordinary contributions to its communities and our nation.”
Delaware County Community College Recognized for Persistence, Graduation Rates
Another school to make the leader ranking this year is Delaware County Community College. According to the Haverford-Haverton Patch, the school achieved this distinction through increasing graduation rates and closing achievement gaps. Retention rates at Delaware County Community College have increased from 68 percent in 2007 to 73 percent in 2011. The school has achieved such improvement through programs like supplemental instruction, mentoring and new student orientations.
“We are excited to be recognized as a Leader College,” Dr. Virginia Carter, Provost of Delaware Community Colleges, said in a press release reported at the Patch. “Since we began our relationship with the Achieving the Dream organization, student success became a college priority that involved everyone. Initiatives and processes to help each student move toward his/her educational goal are integrated into the fabric of the college – from fiscal planning to hiring and program development. The recognition is a tribute to the dedication of our faculty, staff and communities.”
Montgomery County Community College Helps Students Stay in School
Effective programs designed with retention and student success in mind put Montgomery County Community College on Achieve the Dream’s prestigious list of college leaders. According to a report at the Times Herald, specific programs like the Minority Male Mentoring program has improved retention of African-American students and the Gatekeeper Academy has proven helpful in providing much needed faculty support for 14 of the targeted courses offered by the college.
“We’re very proud of it,” Karen A. Stout, president of the college, responded when asked by the Times Herald about the leadership title. Stout added that the Gatekeeper Academy courses have proven successful in helping students succeed in a wide range of mentors, and the Minority Male Mentoring program now boasts involvement of around 150 students. The latter program was started when the college noticed minority male students were not graduating at the same rate as the rest of the student body.
“We’re in our third year and seeing significant results at this point,” Stout told the Times Herald. “They are persisting through the semester and being retained at the same rates as the general student body.”
It takes special qualities to be considered a leader, and this goes for community colleges, as well as for individuals. The Achieving the Dream organization maintains the highest possible standards for schools to live up to, with the intention of seeing greater retention, success and graduation rates from the students that attend the colleges associated with the organization. With effective programs and a focus on student success rather than simply enrollment figures, the community colleges on this list have demonstrated that they are committed to seeing their students succeed both in school and beyond.