Sep 24, 2014 11:53 pm

Achieving the Dream recently announced that Pierce College is one of 16 community colleges selected for the 2014 cohort of Achieving the Dream Leader Colleges – a national designation awarded to community colleges that commit to improving student success and closing achievement gaps.

“We are excited about the achievement gains we’ve made in a short period of time, and we remain committed to helping students complete their education goals,” said Chancellor Michele Johnson. “We are honored to be selected as a leader college.”

Achieving the Dream performed an extensive review of specified practice and performance activities. Pierce College has shown how data can inform policy and practice to help community college students achieve their goals, resulting in improved skills, better employability, and economic growth for families, communities, and the nation as a whole.

A few highlights of how Pierce College is raising the bar to better serve its students include improving overall retention rates of new, degree-seeking state-supported students. Between the 2009-10 and 2012-13 academic years, fall-to-fall retention rates increased from 53.4 percent to 58.1 percent. Overall fall-to-winter retention rates have also increased from 80.6 percent in 2010-11 to 84.9 percent in 2013-14. Since fall 2010, the overall completion rate in all precollege math courses has steadily increased, from 57.3 percent to 65.2 percent in Fall 2013.

Even more notable is that every demographic assessed (race/ethnicity, gender, Pell Grant recipient and first generation) experienced increases between 2011-12 and 2012-13.

“The work of improving student success is critically important to our education and economy,” said Carol Lincoln, Achieving the Dream Senior Vice President. “Pierce College has demonstrated that better student outcomes are possible when an institution focuses on policies and practices that help students learn at high levels and overcome challenges life throws at them. Pierce College is working hard to move the needle for whole cohorts of students, and deserves recognition for its relentless efforts and promising achievements.”

The 2014 Leader Colleges are making strides in the national movement to increase student completion and close achievement gaps, demonstrating the power of the Achieving the Dream Approach. With the guidance of Achieving the Dream coaches, colleges not only systemically change the way they operate, but also implement key student supports that align with their overall policies and institutional systems, such as college readiness programs, mandatory new student orientation, student-success courses, developmental course redesign, curriculum redesign, and intensive, individualized advising.

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. Since 2009, Achieving the Dream has granted Leader College status to a total of 79 active Achieving the Dream Institutions.