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CMCC joins “Achieving the Dream” Network to improve student success

Participating in the Achieving the Dream conferences earlier this year were (l. to r.) mathematics instructor John Wallace, Dean of Student Services Nick Hamel, nursing program chair Kathy McManus, Director of Institutional Research Ron Bolstridge, Dean of Academic Affairs Betsy Libby, Humanities Department chair Ethel Bowden, Assoc. Dean of Academic Affairs Anne St. Pierre, and business instructor Mike Henry.

Central Maine Community College has joined Achieving the Dream. a network of more than 220 colleges in 39 states dedicated to improving student success. As an ATD Network institution, CMCC will work closely with national experts over the next three years to implement evidence-based approaches for improving student outcomes.

“Achieving the Dream is a growing network of more than 220 community colleges committed to helping all students achieve their goals for academic success,” noted Betsy Libby, academic dean at CMCC. “The goal is to close academic achievement gaps and accelerate student success by examining data and building on the college’s capacities in seven essential areas, such as leadership and vision, teaching and learning, and data and technology.”

The Kresge Foundation has awarded an $810,000 grant to the Foundation for Maine’s Community Colleges to enable CMCC and the other Maine community colleges to join the ATD Network.

“Maine is poised to become a national leader in demonstrating how low-income, first generation, and under-represented students can succeed in college,” said William F. L. Moses, managing director of the Kresge Foundation’s Education Program. “This award is a testament to the collaborative approach that Maine’s community colleges are taking to improve student outcomes, and it recognizes the promising work already underway across the Maine Community College System.”

The ATD Network offers a “capacity-building framework” and self-assessment tools that allow colleges to pinpoint strengths and areas for improvement across those seven institutional capacities. The approach integrates and aligns existing college success efforts and offers valuable support in making bold, institution-wide changes.

“The strength of local and regional economies, our ability to rebuild the middle class, and the possibility that a new generation will achieve their goals depends on community colleges,” said Dr. Karen A. Stout, president and CEO of Achieving the Dream. “Colleges that join the ATD Network show an exceptional commitment to becoming the kind of institution that will lead the nation into the future.”

A team from CMCC met with teams from other colleges in February and June to prepare to launch their ATD work. Colleges in the ATD Network rely heavily on data that answers critical questions about who attends college, who succeeds and why, and how students pay for their education. To advance the goals of academic success and social mobility, the colleges examine data metrics that provide information on how low-income and other underserved students perform. These are categorized into performance metrics, efficiency metrics, and equity metrics at points during the student experience and on through post-college outcomes.

As colleges progress through ATD, they may apply to participate in initiatives that can help them refine practices based on sound evidence of what works. For more information about the Achieving the Dream Network, see achievingthedream.org.

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