Modesto Junior College has been accepted for participation in the 2015 Achieving the Dream National Reform Network cohort, beginning June 2015, for a three-year commitment.
Achieving the Dream is a national, comprehensive, nongovernmental reform network that assists community colleges in their efforts to create greater opportunities for student success. The network includes more than 100 coaches and advisors, and 15 state policy teams - working throughout 35 states and the District of Columbia – in order to help more than 4 million community college students have a better chance of realizing greater economic opportunity and achieving their dreams.
“We are delighted to welcome Modesto Junior College into the Achieving the Dream National Reform Network and congratulate them for taking this next step in operationalizing their commitment to improving student outcomes,” said Achieving the Dream Vice President for Community College Relations Cindy Lenhart.
MJC President Jill Stearns is pleased to become part of the Achieving the Dream Network and looks forward to applying the Achieving the Dream framework at MJC.
“We can do more to support the success of our students and Achieving the Dream will help us get there,” said Stearns.
A team from MJC joined with 14 other colleges accepted into the 2015 cohort at an Achieving the Dream Kickoff Institute held June 23-25, where they worked in in teams with coaches to increase the college’s data analytic capacity to inform decision-making; understand how guided pathways can improve the student experience; identify opportunities to improve teaching and learning; and understand equity challenges on campus.
Community college students often take several years to earn certificates or degrees, so Achieving the Dream works with institutions to improve student progression through five milestones of success. These indicators include the rates at which students:
- Successfully complete remedial or developmental instruction and advance to credit-bearing courses
- Enroll in and successfully complete the initial college-level or gatekeeper courses in subjects such as math and English
- Complete the courses they take with a grade of “C” or better
- Persistence from one term to the next
- Attain a degree or credential
“Achieving The Dream is a phenomenal opportunity for MJC to be connected with other colleges that are struggling with and addressing a difficult reality; that we have large achievement gaps between different student populations,” said James Todd, Interim Vice President of Student Services.
Achieving the Dream provides colleges with a plan that a participating college can follow for evidence-based for institutional improvement. Based on MJC’s particular needs, the network will assign a leadership coach and data coach, who will visit the college to guide and mentor college administrators and staff in developing the college’s improvement plans.
“Participation in the Achieving the Dream Network aligns with our work on student success and equity,” said Brenda Thames, Vice President of Instruction. “It offers MJC an exciting opportunity to access research and best practices from community colleges across the nation. Participation in this initiative will enhance our existing focus on students, student engagement, teaching, learning and integrated institutional efforts to assist students in meeting their educational goals.”
MJC will follow Achieving the Dream’s model for institutional improvement which is a five-step process:
- MJC’s leadership makes a clear commitment to improving student outcomes and communicates this as an institutional priority to internal and external stakeholders.
- MJC takes an honest and forthright assessment of performance with respect to student outcomes, identifies barriers to student achievement and opportunities for improvement, and explicitly articulates those that will be addressed as priorities.
- MJC engages internal and external stakeholders in the development of strategies for addressing priority problems and improving student achievement.
- MJC focuses on implementing a limited number of strategies (usually two to four).
- MJC repeats the initial steps of this process – identifying new problem areas and developing, testing, and expanding effective approaches to addressing those problems.
“To become an Achieving the Dream College, applicants must demonstrate an institution-wide commitment to spend at least three years working with Achieving the Dream experts to implement reforms designed to improve student success and completion rates on their campuses. Such a huge commitment to fundamentally rethink educational and student support is unusual and should be applauded because their work will result in a much larger, better educated, and productive workforce,” said Achieving the Dream President and CEO William E. Trueheart.
A team from MJC will attend the DREAM institute in February of 2016, 2017, and 2018, as part of the college’s three-year commitment. There is also an annual financial commitment of $75,000 that MJC will pay to participate in the Achieving the Dream Network for the next three years.
“We will have the opportunity to discuss and exchange ideas with other leaders, faculty and staff who are fellow practitioners engaged in multi-dimensional efforts to address achievement gaps and positively impact the successful outcomes of community college students,” Thames said.