HARRISBURG, Pa., Sept. 27, 2011 /PRNewswire/ -- Six Pennsylvania Community Colleges were recognized nationally today with a Leader College distinction for their work in raising graduation rates, closing achievement gaps and changing lives.
Achieving the Dream, Inc., a national nonprofit that helps 3.5 million community college students stay in school and earn a college certificate or degree, announced today that 23 additional Achieving the Dream Institutions have earned the distinction. These emerging leaders join the ranks of now 52 institutions that have achieved Leader College status.
"It's a great honor to have so many of our community colleges recognized on a national scale for the great work they do every day," said Diane Bosak, executive director of the Pennsylvania Commission for Community Colleges. "These institutions work tirelessly to improve student outcomes in what is a critical time in our state's workforce and higher-education needs."
Six of the 23 colleges named today are from Pennsylvania.
The Community College of Allegheny County, Beaver County Community College, the Community College of Philadelphia, Delaware County Community College, Montgomery County Community College and Westmoreland County Community College join Northampton Community College who was given the Leader College distinction in 2010.
To be eligible for Leader College distinction, colleges must demonstrate commitment to and progress on four principles: committed leadership, use of evidence to improve programs and services, broad engagement, and systemic institutional improvement.
They must also show three years of sustained improvement of student success on at least one of the following measures of performance: completion of certificates or degrees, term-to-term and year-to-year retention, completion of college-level math and English courses, advancement from developmental to credit-bearing courses and/or course completion.
Information provided by Achieving the Dream on why each Pennsylvania community college was selected, can be found below:
- Community College of Allegheny County (Pittsburgh, PA) increased the percentage of students completing developmental reading coursework by the second year from 38 percent for the 2005 cohort to 47 percent for the 2009 cohort. They have also increased the percentage of students completing all developmental coursework in two years from 31 percent in 2006 to 35 percent in 2009. This improvement is associated with a variety of interventions including Early Intervention, elimination of "D" as a passing grade, and eliminating late registration, which has been scaled to reach 100 percent of students.
- Community College of Beaver County (Monaca, PA) increased fall semester course completion for all full-time first-time-in-college students from 67 percent in 2007-2008 to 70 percent in 2010-2011. This improvement is associated with several policy and curricular changes including: stricter placement testing and enrollment requirements, greater use of student success data including the Community College Survey of Student Engagement, use of My Math Lab in developmental math courses, enhanced professional development for developmental education professors, and realignment of developmental coursework with gateway courses. These interventions have been scaled to reach 100 percent of full-time first time in college students and 25 percent of all students.
- Community College of Philadelphia (Philadelphia, PA) increased first-time, fall-to-fall black male student persistence from 33 percent in 2007 to 44 percent in 2010. This improvement is associated with intensive faculty professional development on promising teaching practices. This training has been scaled to reach 36 percent of faculty.
- Delaware County Community College (Media, PA) increased fall-to-spring retention from 68 percent in 2007 to 73 percent in 2011. This improvement is associated with 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 percent of all students.
- Montgomery County Community College (Blue Bell, PA) increased success rates in developmental math from 49 percent in 2007 to 52 percent in 2010. This improvement is associated with changes to the developmental math curriculum including replacing the lowest level of developmental math (arithmetic) with a new course called Concepts of Numbers and accelerating students through developmental math where appropriate. Additionally, the SmartStart advising program, and the Minority Male Mentoring Program both provided an extra layer of student support. Concepts of Numbers has been scaled to reach 61 percent of first level developmental math students and will be expanded to 100 percent of this target population in the 2011-2012 school year.
- Westmoreland County Community College (Youngwood, PA) increased fall-to-spring retention from 72 percent in 2006 to 75 percent in 2009. This improvement is associated with changes to developmental coursework including mandatory placement testing, mandatory enrollment in appropriate developmental coursework before taking college level courses, smaller class sizes, scheduling changes, required tutoring labs, and fast track options for students near placement cut-off scores. These interventions have been scaled to reach 100 percent of students in developmental courses and 35 percent of all students
Today's news comes on the heels of a $20 million federal grant that was awarded to Pennsylvania's 14 community colleges yesterday. The Trade Adjustment Assistance Community College and Career Training (TAACCCT) program grant will help the colleges to expand their capacity to meet the skill needs of state or local industries while increasing attainment of college degrees and other industry-recognized credentials.
Pennsylvania's 14 community colleges serve students from every county of the state. The Pennsylvania Commission for Community Colleges is a nonprofit, volunteer membership association for Pennsylvania's community colleges. Its members include the college presidents, members of colleges' boards of trustees and key college administrators. The Commission represents the interests and advocates the collective needs of the community colleges to federal and state policymakers. For more information please visit www.pacommunitycolleges.org.
Pennsylvania's 14 community colleges include: Community College of Allegheny County, Community College of Beaver County, Community College of Philadelphia, Bucks County Community College, Butler County Community College, Delaware County Community College, Harrisburg Area Community College, Lehigh Carbon Community College, Luzerne County Community College, Montgomery County Community College, Northampton Community College, Pennsylvania Highlands Community College, Reading Area Community College and Westmoreland County Community College.
About Achieving the Dream
Achieving the Dream, Inc. is a national nonprofit that is dedicated to helping more community college students, particularly low-income students and students of color, stay in school and earn a college certificate or degree. Evidence-based, student-centered, and built on the values of equity and excellence, Achieving the Dream is closing achievement gaps and accelerating student success nationwide by: 1) improving results at institutions, 2) influencing public policy, 3) generating knowledge, and 4) engaging the public. Conceived as an initiative in 2004 by Lumina Foundation and seven founding partner organizations, today, Achieving the Dream is the largest non-governmental reform movement for student success in higher education history. With 160 institutions, more than 100 coaches and advisors, and 16 state policy teams - working throughout 30 states and the District of Columbia - Achieving the Dream helps 3.5 million community college students have a better chance of realizing greater economic opportunity and achieving their dreams. To learn more about Achieving the Dream, visit www.AchievingtheDream.org.
Jamie Yates, Pennsylvania Commission for Community Colleges
SOURCE Pennsylvania Commission for Community Colleges