Improving Community College Student Success

Nineteen Achieving the Dream colleges in Washington are working to build a culture of evidence and inquiry, examine student data, implement strategies to close achievement gaps, and evaluate the impact of these strategies. 


Six pioneering colleges began participating in Achieving the Dream  in 2006.  These colleges tried a mix of strategies to improve student success.  Some of these strategies were discontinued because of disappointing result.  Optional out-of-class interventions rarely caused course completion rates to improve, because the students who needed help the most failed to take advantage of optional services.  And interventions that were developed with insufficient faculty input were rarely sustained beyond a short pilot period.  

Interventions that are have the greatest impact on student achievement for the greatest number of students include those focused on pedagogy (professional development, curriculum redesign, or embedding academic and student support services in certain classes), well-designed orientation and advising programs, and student success courses that are mandatory for students that place below college-level.  

Want to learn more details about the early strategies of Achieving the Dream colleges that generated the most positive results?

Moving the Needle to Improve Student Success, highlights the outstanding efforts of four Washington colleges that have earned Leader College status. These colleges are increasing student success and completion outrcomes and have sustained this progress for three years.  

Highlights in the area of developmental education reform are described in the initiative publication Right from the Start.  

Information about each of the early strategies can be found in an interactive tool, the Intervention Explorer.  

College Spark funding supported ten additional colleges in joining Achieving the Dream in 2011.  These colleges are working to develop a culture where decisions are based on evidence and piloting strategies aimed at improving student success. The most recent high-level summary of there progress can be found here.