ERIC Number: ED496977
Record Type: Non-Journal
Publication Date: 2007-May
Building a Culture of Evidence for Community College Student Success: Early Progress in the Achieving the Dream Initiative
Brock, Thomas; Jenkins, Davis; Ellwein, Todd; Miller, Jennifer; Gooden, Susan; Martin, Kasey; MacGregor, Casey; Pih, Michael
Can community colleges make better use of data to improve student outcomes? That's the fundamental idea behind "Achieving the Dream: Community Colleges Count," a bold initiative launched in 2003 by Lumina Foundation for Education to help community college students succeed--particularly, low-income students and students of color, who have traditionally faced the most barriers to success. This report, a co-production of MDRC and the Community College Research Center (CCRC) at Columbia University's Teachers College, describes Achieving the Dream's attempt to build this "culture of evidence" at the first 27 community colleges that joined the initiative. After little more than a year, every college has made some progress toward that goal; many have developed new programs for struggling students; and six colleges already show signs of institutionalizing evidence-based decision-making and planning. This report reflects only the first year of implementation of a four-year initiative. The report also presents data on average institutional performance on selected student outcomes prior to the start of the initiative. Later on in the evaluation, these data will be used as a baseline against which changes in student achievement will be measured. The key findings are: (1) As expected, institutional measures reveal low rates of success at baseline; (2) The colleges embraced the goal of building a culture of evidence; (3) Nearly half of the colleges used data analysis to identify problems to address on their campuses; (4) Colleges implemented a wide array of strategies to improve student success; and (5) Six colleges showed signs of institutionalizing a culture of evidence after only one year; however most other colleges evinced signs of progress. Chapter 1 of this report describes the history and design of the initiative, its "theory of action," the participating Round 1 colleges, and the evaluation methodology. Chapter 2 presents findings on how students are faring at the colleges at baseline, before the colleges had begun making changes in their culture or operations. Chapter 3 describes the efforts the colleges are making to build a "culture of evidence" that gathers, analyzes, and uses data to inform decision-making. Chapter 4 examines how college presidents and other individuals responsible for Achieving the Dream on each campus are working to engage faculty and other members of the community in the initiative. Chapter 5 describes the major programmatic strategies that colleges have chosen to improve academic outcomes for students. Chapter 6 concludes with an assessment of progress to date and of the efforts that the colleges are making to institutionalize and sustain the initiative. The following are appended: (1) Supplementary Tables for Chapter 2: Characteristics of Round 1 Colleges, Academic Year 2004-2005; (2) Achieving the Dream Data Decisions and Definitions of Derived Variables; and (3) Supplementary Tables for Chapter 5: Strategies Implemented at Round 1 Colleges as of Spring 2006. (Contains 23 tables and 6 figures.) [This report was written with Bethany Miller and Christian Geckeler.]
Descriptors: Community Colleges, Data Analysis, Academic Achievement, Outcomes of Education, Educational Change, College Presidents, Validity, College Students, Minority Groups, Low Income Groups, Strategic Planning, Educational Policy, Program Evaluation, Goal Orientation, Organizational Objectives, Institutional Cooperation, Partnerships in Education
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Publication Type: Reports - Evaluative
Education Level: Two Year Colleges
Sponsor: Lumina Foundation for Education, Indianapolis, IN.
Authoring Institution: Manpower Demonstration Research Corp., New York, NY.; Columbia Univ., New York, NY. Community Coll. Research Center.; Achieving the Dream, Inc.