Achieving The Dream works to support community colleges in their work to improve student completion on a national level and leads the nation’s most comprehensive, non-governmental reform network for community college student success and completion. The group and its 200-member community college network have successfully impacted student engagement and graduation for more than 3.5 million of the nation’s community college students. In 2009, Coastal Bend College was one of 13 colleges across the country to be recognized as a Leader College for ATD.
Leader Colleges are evaluated on whether or not they have met high standards of practice and performance. Data collection and reporting is extensive, and colleges must have demonstrated a commitment to and progress on the four principles of Achieving The Dream: committed leadership, use of evidence to improve programs and services, broad engagement and systemic institutional improvement. Leader Colleges will serve as mentors within the Achieving The Dream community of learners as well as advocates for the principles of Achieving The Dream.
Coastal Bend College was recently recertified as a Leader College on the basis of two measures of dedicated interventions to help students succeed. First, students required to take the developmental math courses were supported through successful completion.
Irma Cantu, chair of CBC’s College Preparatory Studies department, says, “Our first student success measure was for Developmental Education Math students to successfully complete developmental instruction so that they could move on to college credit courses. We were able to detail the successful completion of the developmental instruction sequence over four years. Because our institutional data trend with national data showing that math courses are often barriers to achievement, we settled our focus there.
“In 2008, the successful completion rate (end of course grade of A, B, or C) was at 33 percent. After we began the initiative, student successful completions rose to 42 percent (2009-10), increasing to a successful completion rate of 75 percent in 2011-2012. We are very encouraged. Our plans are to continue to refine and improve our process. We believe we’re on the right track.”
Second, these same students fared very well when they advanced to the “gatekeeper” math courses, which have traditionally been the courses that keep students from attaining a degree, such as the first college level math course. Slightly more than half (51 percent) of the students taking Developmental Math and enrolling in college algebra at CBC were successful in the 2008-09 academic year, which is the baseline for this student success measure. The success rate for all gatekeeper math course students increased steadily over the next few years, resulting in an overall successful course completion rate of 82 percent for the students who had participated in the Developmental Math Initiative. More impressive is that the Developmental students attained a higher rate of successful completion in the gatekeeper math course than students who did not need developmental math.
“We are an open access gateway to higher education,” says Dr. Beatriz Espinoza, CBC president. “Not all students come prepared to take college level coursework, but what is important is that they show up ready to learn and fulfill dreams of college attainment and building career pathways. For those students, we have a very strong College Preparatory Studies department and are very proud of their dedication and work for student success.
“The recognition we have received from Achieving the Dream is significant and something we hope our entire community can be proud of.”