Four community colleges from across the country in Achieving the Dream’s Network have earned Leader College of Distinction status, the highest designation offered to institutions in the ATD Network. The 2020 cohort of Leader Colleges of Distinction includes 2020 Leah Meyer Austin Award winner Northeast Wisconsin Technical College (NWTC) in Wisconsin, Roane State College in Tennessee, Sinclair Community College in Ohio, and Odessa College in Texas.
“In 2020, community colleges had to reimagine what student success looks like during a time of upheaval, uncertainty, and unprecedented distance learning. The ATD institutions joining our Leader Colleges of Distinction this year have not only risen to the challenge of supporting students during a pandemic but have demonstrated a sustained commitment to improving student outcomes for many years prior. We are proud to acknowledge the work and care involved in driving these outcomes,” said Dr. Karen A. Stout, president and CEO of Achieving the Dream.
ATD created the Leader College of Distinction award in 2018 to recognize colleges that have pursued and met challenging student success goals, often earning Leader College status several times. Leader Colleges of Distinction must show improvement in three or more student outcome metrics, including at least one lagging indicator such as completion or transfer with an earned baccalaureate. Leader Colleges of Distinction also are required to show they have reduced equity gaps in at least two metrics for at least two student groups. These requirements recognize and motivate sustained and proactive reform efforts that result in greater improvements in student success and equity.
“It is a great honor to be selected as an Achieving the Dream Leader College of Distinction. We believe every student can succeed, and it is our moral imperative to ensure they do so,” said Dr. Jeff Rafn, NWTC president. He continued, “I am incredibly proud of the work done by the NWTC faculty and staff, especially during the pandemic, to continue to serve our students and provide the same, high quality standards of education.”
This year’s cohort of Leader Colleges of Distinction achieved the following student success outcomes:
NWTC had substantive increases in student persistence, credit completion, and the proportion of students who successfully transfer and earn a baccalaureate degree. NWTC also narrowed their equity gaps for students receiving Pell grants, part-time students, and student parents. Not only did the college increase their overall proportion of students who transfer and earn a baccalaureate degree by seven percentage points, from 27 percent to 34 percent, but they also halved an existing equity gap on this measure between students who received Pell grants and those who did not.
Odessa College had substantive increases in the proportion of students who successfully complete Gateway English and Gateway English and Math within one year of enrolling at the college as well as the proportion of students completing a credential within four years and those who transfer and earn a baccalaureate degree within six years of enrolling at the college. Odessa College narrowed their equity gaps for low income students receiving Pell grants, between women and men, and between Black and White students. In 2018, Odessa College received ATD’s Leah Meyer Austin Award.
Roane State Community College had substantive increases in student persistence, credit completion, and completion of a credential within four years of initial enrollment. Roane State narrowed their equity gaps for low-income students receiving Pell grants, parttime students, and between male and female students. The college also closed their existing equity gap on student persistence, increasing persistence for part-time students by 16 percentage points.
Sinclair Community College had substantive increases in the proportion of students who successfully complete Gateway Math and both Gateway English and Math within one year of enrolling at the college as well as the ratio of successful credit completion and completion of a credential within four years of entering the college. Sinclair Community College has narrowed their existing equity gaps for low-income students receiving Pell grants and between Black and White students. In addition to increasing four-year completion by seven percentage points, the college narrowed their existing equity gaps for students who receive Pell grants and for Black students on this measure.
Achieving the Dream (ATD) leads a growing network of more than 300 community colleges committed to helping their students, particularly low-income students and students of color, achieve their goals for academic success, personal growth, and economic opportunity. ATD is making progress in closing equity gaps and accelerating student success through a unique change process that builds each college’s institutional capacities in seven essential areas. ATD, along with nearly 75 experienced coaches and advisors, works closely with Network colleges in 45 states and the District of Columbia to reach more than 4 million community college students.