On Friday, we announced that CSN has been selected to join an elite group of colleges as part of the Achieving the Dream National Reform Network.
Achieving the Dream is the nation’s most comprehensive non-governmental reform network for student success in higher education. The organization strives to improve member colleges’ practices and procedures to close achievement gaps and augment student retention, persistence and completion rates.
This means that CSN will have the best coaching and assistance available in the nation to ensure the students who walk through our doors obtain a quality and meaningful education that translates into personal and professional success. On Friday, we gave a broad overview about Achieving the Dream. This link provides a more detailed outline of what we can expect during the first year of planning and the next two years when we implement the first and second rounds of interventions as part of Achieving the Dream.
Dr. John Nixon, who recently retired as President of Mt. San Antonio College in California, will serve as our leadership coach. He has over 35 years of experience working with community colleges, including overseeing policy and management of California’s largest single-campus community college district. Dr. Ken Gonzalez, a national expert and researcher on institutional effectiveness in higher education, will be our data coach. Both will guide us to create institution-wide student success initiatives.
A couple of examples of how Achieving the Dream has impacted other community colleges.
- At Galveston College in Texas, officials increased developmental math success rates from 21% in fall 2006 to 58.6% in fall 2010. This remarkable improvement is associated with changes to the developmental math curriculum, including increased contact hours and use of MyMathLab software. These interventions have been scaled to reach 100% of developmental math students and 18.8% of all students.
- At Community College of Vermont, located in Montpelier, they increased first-time, fall-to-fall retention rates for first-time-in-college students from 38% in 2006 to 41% in 2009. The improvement is associated with an initiative called the Dimensions First intervention, a required first semester seminar that helps students to build strong information literacy and critical thinking skills, teaches them how to engage in the academic community, and provides a space for goal-setting and reflection. Dimensions First has been scaled to reach 35% of first-time-in-college students and 6% of all students.
- At Delaware County Community College in Media, Pennsylvania, they increased fall-to-spring retention from 68% in 2007 to 73% in 2011. They did this by using a combination of interventions: English conferencing, Supplemental Instruction, JumpStart Math, Academy for College Excellence, Reading/counselor pairings, new student orientation and mentoring that in combination have been scaled to reach 31% of all students.
As part of Achieving the Dream, CSN has a core team that includes Professor Janice Glasper, incoming Faculty Senate Chair Dr. Charles Milne, Institutional Research Director John Bearce, Senior Vice President of Finance & Facilities Patty Charlton, Vice President of Academic Affairs Dr. Darren Divine, Vice President of Student Affairs Dr. Santos Martinez, Associate Vice President of Academic Affairs Dr. Hyla Winters and me. Many others will also be involved. We will be looking at a variety of practices in student services and academic affairs. Working with the coaches, assessing our weaknesses and fixing these practices will require broad participation from a variety of faculty and staff. This must be an institutional effort.
We are embarking upon a very exciting journey for CSN that will help us make more effective improvements, faster than we could on our own. I look forward working with you all during this transformative process.
We will hear more about this great initiative at Fall Convocation on Aug. 20 at Texas Station. Mark your calendars.
Michael Richards, Ph.D.