ATD and its four partner community colleges commit to engaging in national demonstrations and creating and sharing a tool on the promising practices for scaling effective interventions that improve student outcomes at community colleges. They will synthesize, produce, and disseminate Catalyst Fund lessons learned through this new tool, Scaling Successful Interventions for Community Colleges. The partner colleges have also received professional training enabling them to write and teach case studies on the lessons learned so that the tool can include professionally developed case studies on each colleges steps to scale, highlighting the impact and elements of the process that succeeded or failed and why. Through this tool, ATD experts and the colleges will specify challenges to scaling, recommend strategies, and provide specific examples.
The tool will suggest that achieving scale requires colleges to identify levers for institutional change, including leadership commitment and support; broad engagement and support from other stakeholders, such as board members, faculty, administrators, students, and the community, who understand the interventions purpose and their respective roles and responsibilities; systemic mechanisms to collect and analyze data and communicate evidence to monitor, refine, and scale program implementations; and institutionalizing and prioritizing innovative practices, such as learning communities, first-year experience courses, and cooperative learning.
ATD coaches, who counsel colleges on adopting policies and practices that focus on long-term systemic changes to increase student outcomes, will work with the partner colleges to monitor their progress toward achieving improved outcomes and to document learnings about the nuts and bolts of scaling that can be translated into promising practices. They will integrate the institutional change recommendations into the technical assistance they currently provide to nearly 200 community colleges in the ATD Network, ensuring interventions may be scaled in reasonable time frames and with predictable resources and advocating with college leadership for the adoption of recommended methodologies for scaling.
ATD will also organize learning events where the tool will be highlighted and where partner colleges will share their findings with community college peers, in institute or workshop formats, on what works and on how scaling can catalyze systemic institutional reform. Finally, ATD and the partner colleges will conduct network-wide webinars and create instructional modules on these findings.
In Summer 2015, an external evaluator, DVP Praxis with Equal Measure, will finalize an evaluation of the first two years of the Catalyst Fund project. ATD will release the evaluation to its ATD Network and to the field through its distribution channels, including social media. Also in Summer 2015, ATD will work with the four partner colleges to finalize case studies for the Scaling Successful Interventions in Community Colleges tool for publication and release by the start of the fall semester.
Between Fall 2015 and Summer 2016, ATD and the partner colleges will conduct a series of webinars for ATD Network colleges and the field to share findings. In addition, ATD will train its data and leadership coaches to use the Successful Interventions in Community Colleges tool for their college coaching and site visit work with college Core Teams. ATD will also solicit, on an ongoing basis, feedback from coaches about the best way to incorporate lessons of scaling into the coaches work with their ATD Network colleges.
In Spring 2016 and Spring 2017, ATD and the partner colleges will present promising practices identified and implemented as well as the Scaling Successful Interventions in Community Colleges tool at DREAM, ATDs annual institute on student success that brings together more than 1,900 practitioners, influential policy-makers, investors, and thought-leaders. DREAM will include sessions highlighting lessons learned as well as case studies from the Catalyst Fund project and workshops on how to use the tool to implement scaling practices in institutions. ATD and the partner colleges will also present these findings and promising practices at additional national post-secondary conferences (i.e. AACC, AAC&U, NISOD).
Research shows that the jobs in the United States increasingly require workers to have postsecondary training. Nearly half of all college undergraduates are enrolled in community colleges and this enrollment is growing. Thus, despite the success in improving student persistence and completion in community colleges in the Achieving the Dream National Reform Network (ATD Network), it is necessary to find ways to expand the reach of successful interventions and strategies so that more students attain the skills and credentials necessary for success in the global economy.
Too often, community colleges adopt student success interventions that only affect a portion of the total student body. Research suggests expanding the reach of successful interventions internally at the colleges, through scaling, will meaningfully affect student experiences, and thus will improve student outcomes in observable ways. With support from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, four ATD Network colleges have embarked on an ambitious four-year strategy to demonstrate the scaling of effective interventions in their colleges and the resulting impact of this scaling on student persistence and success. This Catalyst Fund Initiative will conclude in Spring 2017.
The ATD Network is committed to investigating effective methodologies for its Network colleges to scale promising interventions to ensure that more, and ultimately most, students attain the skills and credentials necessary for success in the global economy. With community colleges facing increased scrutiny and accountability, it is essential that scaling what works become a central focus at community colleges.
To catalyze implementation and replication/adaptation of promising practices and processes for scaling institutional change to improve student outcomes in community colleges, ATD seeks to expand its Catalyst Fund projects scaling initiatives to all community colleges in the ATD Network and to the field. In addition, ATD would like to collaborate with institutional research partners to identify and promote what works in scaling institutional change for community colleges. ATD seeks funding for institutional change scaling institutes, webinars, and coaching for all community colleges that identify it as a key lever of change for improving student persistence and completion.
ATD will share a decade of boots on the ground experience, its Catalyst Fund project lessons learned and promising practices, and its Scaling Successful Practices in Community Colleges tool with all community colleges in the ATD Network and the field, as well as with those research partners or impact investors that seek to partner with ATD to leverage impact for improved student outcomes in community colleges.