February 23, 2016
College Readiness
Improving student outcomes is one of the topics that The Advocate of Affordable College is focused on this year. But, we are not alone. The Achieving the Dream National Reform Network is another organization that is focused on helping more community college students succeed. The network includes over 200 colleges and 15 state policy teams, who are working throughout 35 states and the District of Columbia to help more than 4 million community college students have a better chance of realizing greater economic opportunity and achieving their dreams.
GREG JARBOE
Improving Student Outcomes Is Focus of Achieving the Dream Event

‍Improving student outcomes is one of the topics that The Advocate of Affordable College is focused on this year. But, we are not alone. The Achieving the Dream National Reform Network is another organization that is focused on helping more community college students succeed. The network includes over 200 colleges and 15 state policy teams, who are working throughout 35 states and the District of Columbia to help more than 4 million community college students have a better chance of realizing greater economic opportunity and achieving their dreams.

This week, the Achieving the Dream Annual Meeting on Student Success will be held at the Hyatt Regency in Atlanta, GA. The event, also known as DREAM 2016, is the annual convening of the nation’s most comprehensive non-governmental reform network for student success in higher education history. This flagship event is expected to bring together over 1,900 influential policy-makers, investors, thought-leaders, and practitioners from around the world, who are dedicated to addressing one of our nation’s most urgent challenges: helping more community college students succeed. 

Among the attendees will be Sean O'Brien, the Co-Founder of The Affordable College Public Benefit Corporation, a B Corp founded to help community college students afford and attain a bachelor’s degree. Its Community College Success Fund provides financial support for community colleges to increase enrollment, retention, and transfer rates.

On Friday, I got a chance to ask him which sessions he was planning to attend at DREAM 2016. Here are a handful of the ones about improving student outcomes that he said were at the top of his list:

Looking Ahead: Creating the Environment for Change (Wednesday, Feb. 24, 2016, 9:30-11:30 a.m.)

In the Presidents’ Leadership symposia offered this year by Achieving the Dream and Aspen Institute, presidents again elevated the necessity for purposeful design of change management. Achieving the DREAM CEO Karen Stout will launch this conversation with more details about ATD’s new framework for helping colleges build essential capacities for institutional transformation. Melinda Mechur Karp will share her research on the types of leadership that are associated with transformative organizational change, and a panel of Achieving the Dream presidents will share their experiences beta-testing Achieving the Dream’s new Institutional Capacity Assessment Tool (ICAT).

Speakers include: Pam Eddinger, President, Bunker Hill Community College; Melinda Mechur Karp, Assistant Director for Staff and Institutional Development, Community College Research Center; Mary Rittling, President, Davidson County Community College; Steven Rose, President, Passaic County Community College; William Serrata, President, El Paso Community College; and Karen Stout, CEO and President, Achieving the Dream.

SPOTLIGHT SESSION: How to Measure—and Improve—Bachelor’s Completion by Your Students Who Transfer (Wednesday, Feb. 24, 2016, 10:45-11:45 a.m.)

While the majority of community college students report a goal of attaining at least a bachelor’s degree, fewer than one in five students do so within six years of community college entry. New, cutting-edge research based on National Student Clearinghouse data provides community colleges and four-year institutions with publicly-available resources and tools for measuring their effectiveness in enabling transfer students to earn college degrees. Learn from researchers and leaders of high-performing colleges about how your college can improve educational success for transfer students.

Speakers include: David Beyer, Everett Community College; Davis Jenkins, Community College Research Center; Joyce Walsh Portillo, AVP of Academic Affairs, Broward College; and Josh Wyner, Aspen Institute College Excellence Program.

SPOTLIGHT SESSION: Journey of the Underprepared Student (Wednesday, Feb. 24, 2016, 10:45-11:45 a.m.)

Many in the field acknowledge that developmental education is broken. As a result, the field is currently in flux regarding processes and work with underprepared students: assessment, placement, curriculum, instruction, delivery of development education, and so on. O’Brien plans to join the conversation to discuss the findings from the Center for Community College Student Engagement’s latest report and hear from thought leaders, as well as practitioners who are moving beyond the status quo to design and implement new models that will serve all students well.

Speakers include: Paul Fain, News Editor, Inside Higher Ed; Byron McClenney, Leadership Coach, Achieving the Dream; Mary Rittling, President, Davidson County Community College; Steve Rose, President, Passaic County Community College; and Evelyn Waiwaiole, Director, Center for Community College Student Engagement Program in Higher Education Leadership, College of Education, The University of Texas at Austin.

Social Supports & Postsecondary Success: Addressing Obstacles to Completion for Low-Income Students (Thursday, Feb. 25, 2016, 9:15-10:30 a.m.)

Wrap-around supports can help adults—especially parents—complete education and training that ultimately will improve their economic standing. Yet little is known about the availability of these supports or about which supports best meet the needs of adults facing challenges to completion. Drawing on a new Institute for Women’s Policy Research study and the experiences of a Northern Virginia Community College (NVCC) program, this workshop will examine the state of wrap-around supports within the workforce development system and will promote discussion about strategies to effectively address the nonacademic needs of low-income adults. O’Brien plans to learn how the Adult Career Pathways (ACP) program at NVCC has used student-focused case management and community partnerships to improve outcomes for low-income adults; explore how wrap-around supports can close achievement gaps for the most difficult to serve adult students; and share your own insights and experiences.

Speakers include: Christina Hubbard, Associate Director, Northern Virginia Community College, Adult Career Pathways; Cynthia Hess, Study Director, Institute for Women's Policy Research; Lindsey Reichlin, Research Associate and Program Manager, Institute for Women's Policy Research; Jolene Virgo, Program and Data Manager, Northern Virginia Community College, Adult Career Pathways; and Jolene Virgo, Program and Data Manager, Northern Virginia Community College, Adult Career Pathways.

National Student Clearinghouse Reverse Transfer Project: An Automated, National Academic Data Sharing Platform (Thursday, Feb. 25, 2016, 1:45-3:00 p.m.)

Nationally, 7 out of 8 students who start at a community college and later transfer to a 4 year college do so without completing the associate degree. Tens of thousands of those students never complete the bachelor’s degree and are left without a credential of any type. O’Brien plans to hear David Pelham, E.d.D., the Managing Director of Reverse Transfer & Military Initiatives at the National Student Clearinghouse, speak about the new free automated process developed by the National Student Clearinghouse for the exchange of student academic data in support of the reverse transfer of credit.

As you can see, O’Brien’s schedule still has some openings. If there are other sessions about improving student outcomes that you think he should attend, look for him at DREAM 2016.