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Turning the Tide: Five Years of Achieving the Dream in Community Colleges

By: Elizabeth Zachry Rutschow, Lashawn Richburg-Hayes, Thomas Brock, Genevieve Orr, Oscar Cerna, Dan Cullinan, Monica Reid Kerrigan, Davis Jenkins, Susan Gooden & Kasey Martin

Abstract

Turning the Tide: Five Years of Achieving the Dream in Community Colleges

This report examines the first 26 colleges to join Achieving the Dream in 2004 and tracks their progress through spring 2009. The key findings are:

Four out of five Round 1 colleges adopted practices associated with a moderate to strong culture of evidence. These colleges developed more sophisticated methods for analyzing data and monitoring efforts to improve student achievement.

Colleges that made the greatest strides shared several key characteristics, including broad-based involvement of college administrators, faculty, and staff; strong IR departments that produced accessible reports; regular evaluations of their programs; and scale-up of successful programs.

Colleges instituted a wide range of strategies to improve student achievement, but a majority of them remained small in scaleThe most popular strategies were tutoring, supplemental instruction, advising, success courses, and learning communities. A majority of these reforms reached less than 10 percent of target populations.

Trends in student outcomes remained relatively unchanged, with a few exceptions Colleges saw modest improvements in courses completed and the percentage of students completing gatekeeper college English courses. Students’ persistence and completion rates for gatekeeper math and developmental courses remained substantially the same.