Despite aggressive efforts to increase success rates among community college students, a nationwide higher education program has shown little positive effect on college campuses.
The nationwide program Achieving the Dream, which is designed to increase academic success and degree attainment at community colleges, has had little effect on the achievement of students at two-year institutions, according to a new report released by MDRC and the Community College Research Center.
The report revealed the overall trends in student outcomes at the first 26 colleges that began participating in the program in 2002.
The student success outcomes at these institutions remained relatively unchanged over the past five years, even though many of the colleges implemented a wide range of strategies suggested by the program, the report said.
Katie Loovis, spokesperson for Achieving the Dream, said the program works particularly with campuses to implement programs that help students of color and low income students succeed at two-year community colleges.
The program has expanded since 2002 and now works with 130 schools across the country, she said.
Although the report found success rates had remained consistent, it said the program carried an important influence on many colleges.
Many of the colleges that instituted strategies suggested by Achieving the Dream did it on a small scale, the report said. Those that dedicated greater efforts to the program saw higher rates of success.
“The report coverage oversimplified the important aspects of Achieving the Dreams overall work,” said Loovis.
Loovis said because the report only gave statistics on the program’s first 26 participating schools, it did not adequately outline how the program has evolved to include better initiatives.
She added that ultimately all of the colleges have been and will continue to increase and accelerate student success rates for associate degree completion.
According to Greg Lampe, provost and vice chancellor for Academic Affairs of UW Colleges, none of the University of Wisconsin two-year colleges have participated in the Achieving the Dream program.
“However, the UW schools do have many initiatives and programs in place for improving retention and graduation rates for students,” said Lampe.
Lampe added UW’s goal is to award 11,700 more associate degrees to students by the year 2025.