Wallace State named Achieving the Dream Leader College

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HANCEVILLE – Achieving the Dream (ATD) on Wednesday announced that Wallace State Community College is one of eight community colleges in the ATD Network to have earned Leader College status, the organization’s highest designation awarded to institutions that have shown three years of steady improvement in two outcomes that measure student success.  It is a designation reserved for an exceptional few colleges.

“Becoming a Leader College requires an ATD Network college to have data that shows concrete progress toward building a student-centered culture that drives gains in student success,” said Dr. Karen A. Stout, president and CEO of Achieving the Dream. “Colleges have to be willing to work differently to improve students’ educational journeys, and I’m proud to recognize the colleges that are living their commitment to change and are achieving stronger results.”

For example, among the 2017 student outcomes by Leader Colleges were improvements such as:

– An increase in the three-year graduation rate for first-time, full-time degree/certificate seeking students from 32 percent to 37 percent over a three-year period

– An increase in the percentage of students who attempted gateway math from 19 percent to 35 percent and an increase in the percentage of the cohort who completed gateway math from 14 percent to 27 percent

– An increase in the success rate to 75 percent following adoption of a new approach to pre-college math

– An increase in completion of gateway math in a co-requisite model from 68 percent to 82 percent

– An average completion rate for a new co-requisite reading and writing course of 78 percent compared to completion rates of 47 percent for reading and 63 percent for writing when the courses were separate

“The last six years of participation in Achieving the Dream has been a demanding, but a simultaneously very rewarding, journey,” said Wallace State President Dr. Vicki Karolewics. “With a focus on Wallace State’s completion agenda to ensure students ‘Start Early, Start Right, Finish and Succeed,’ our work in Achieving the Dream has inspired the college as we reimagined frontline student services and implemented Lion Central with one-stop services, reimagined advising and designed a tiered approach to better serving our students, reimagined student success and added student success coaching, reimagined orientation and developed Lion’s Pride, redesigned the freshmen seminar class to include e-portfolios, advising and success coaching, redesigned tutoring services to focus on a holistic approach, redesigned developmental education to include emporium math labs and co-requisite English, redesigned processes for graduation eligibility, implemented stackable credentials, and the list goes on and on.”

Leader Colleges are eligible to compete for all grant-funded learning initiatives and are encouraged to provide leadership and support to other colleges in the ATD Network, disseminate lessons learned, support state and national efforts to advance the student success agenda and continue to improve student outcomes.

Leader Colleges also have been winners of ATD’s annual Leah Meyer Austin award, a $25,000 prize for an ATD institution that takes whole-college approaches to improving student success and achieves notable increases in student outcomes.

The colleges that earned new Leader College status in 2017 are:

  • Athens Technical College (GA)
  • Big Bend Community College (WA)
  • Community College of Allegheny County (PA)
  • Edmonds Community College (WA)
  • Housatonic Community College (CT)
  • Stanly Community College (NC)
  • Wallace State Community College (AL)
  • West Georgia Technical College (GA)

ATD leads a growing network of more than 220 community colleges committed to making progress closing academic achievement gaps and accelerating student success through a unique change process that builds each college’s institutional capacities in seven essential areas.  Achieving the Dream grants Leader College designation for three-year cycles. After three years, institutions must undergo a recertification process to maintain Leader College status.

Wallace State Community College was also recently nominated for the Aspen Institute’s Aspen Prize for Community College Excellence for the third time, placing it among the top 150 community colleges in the nation.