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ERIC Number: ED505232
Record Type: Non-Journal
Publication Date: 2009-Mar
Pages: 197
Abstractor: As Provided
Achieving the Dream Colleges in Pennsylvania and Washington State: Early Progress toward Building a Culture of Evidence
Jenkins, Davis; Ellwein, Todd; Wachen, John; Kerrigan, Monica Reid; Cho, Sung-Woo
Community College Research Center, Columbia University
In 2003, Lumina Foundation for Education launched a bold, multiyear, national initiative called "Achieving the Dream: Community Colleges Count," to help students stay in school and succeed. The initiative is focused particularly on students who have faced the most barriers to success, including low-income students and students of color. Initially, 27 colleges in five states joined the initiative; there are now over 80 institutions in 15 states. Participating colleges commit to using data to improve programs and services in ways that lead to increased student success--a process known as "building a culture of evidence." Specifically, colleges mine transcripts and gather other information to understand how students are faring over time and which groups need the most assistance. Based on a diagnosis of the problems in student achievement, they design and implement strategies to improve academic outcomes. Participating colleges receive a $50,000 planning grant followed by a four-year $400,000 implementation grant, along with assistance from coaches hired by the initiative. This report describes the progress made by the 13 Pennsylvania and Washington State community colleges that comprise Round 3 of the Achieving the Dream initiative after planning and one year of implementation. The key findings are: (1) The average institutional rates for Pennsylvania and Washington colleges on most of the baseline performance measures were low, and there was greater variation among colleges within the two states than between them; (2) There was widespread support among college leaders and other personnel for the Achieving the Dream goals and principles, which were seen as consistent with college goals and accreditation and state accountability requirements; (3) All 13 colleges used an analysis of their college's data as the primary means of identifying gaps in student achievement, and used both qualitative and quantitative data to identify and prioritize problems areas; (4) The strategies developed by the colleges focused on four areas: developmental education, supplemental instruction, a first-year student success course, and better organized and more intrusive advising; (5) Four colleges were beginning to institutionalize a culture of evidence, and another four had made promising progress after the first year of implementation. Five had made little or only limited progress; and (6) Achieving the Dream had positive effects on all of the 13 Pennsylvania and Washington State colleges, which as a group were further along a year and a half into the process than were the colleges that joined the initiative two years earlier in the first round. The findings from this study will be compared with follow-up research that CCRC [Community College Research Center] and MDRC will conduct in two years to evaluate the progress of the colleges at the end of the five-year project period. Three appendixes are included: (1) Tool for Measuring Development of the Achieving the Dream Model of Effective Institutions; (2) Mean Institutional Rates for Achieving the Dream Performance Measures; and (3) Achieving the Dream Colleges in Pennsylvania and Washington: Progress toward Implementing Achieving the Dream Institutional Effectiveness Principles. (Contains 15 footnotes, 20 figures and 24 tables.)
Community College Research Center. Available from: CCRC Publications. Teachers College, Columbia University, 525 West 120th Street Box 174, New York, NY 10027. Tel: 212-678-3091; Fax: 212-678-3699; e-mail:; Web site:
Publication Type: Numerical/Quantitative Data; Reports - Descriptive; Tests/Questionnaires
Education Level: Postsecondary Education; Two Year Colleges
Audience: N/A
Language: English
Sponsor: Lumina Foundation for Education
Authoring Institution: Columbia University, Community College Research Center; MDRC; Achieving the Dream, Inc.
Identifiers - Location: Pennsylvania; Washington