ACC President Shares Student Success Expertise at Capitol Hill Briefing

Dr. Richard Rhodes - President/CEO Austin Community College

Dr. Richard Rhodes

Dr. Richard Rhodes, Austin Community College president/CEO, will participate in a panel of higher education leaders to discuss how community colleges can help underprepared students transition to college-level coursework and ultimately earn a degree.

The panel takes place Friday, May 18, in Washington, D.C., as part of a Capitol Hill briefing co-sponsored by the American Youth Policy Forum and the National Center for Postsecondary Research.

Statistics show that, nationwide, more than half of all underprepared students drop out of college within their first year. Dr. Rhodes is one of four panelists who will share strategies for supporting developmental education students and reflect on the growing body of research on student success.

“Moving developmental education students into college-credit programs and boosting graduation rates are among the key goals of ACC’s Student Success Initiative,” says Dr. Rhodes. “This matters to all of us in Central Texas. If we can’t close the educational gaps, we will lose our skilled workforce and ultimately our economic competitiveness.”

Among first-time college students entering ACC in fall 2011, nearly 40 percent were mandated to take some form of developmental education (reading, writing, and/or math). The college is employing a number of tactics to facilitate the transition from developmental education to credit programs. These include:

  • Supportive learning communities and personalized learning plans.
  • A developmental math advisor program to support students in the subject area research shows is most challenging.
  • A faculty coach program to facilitate the application of student performance data analysis to guide creative solutions to instructional challenges.

“We are thrilled Dr. Rhodes will be participating in our panel,” says Betsy Brand, executive director of the American Youth Policy Forum. “His commitment to improving outcomes for all community college students is demonstrated through the positive advances students are making at Austin Community College.”

One striking innovation at ACC was the implementation of an alternate course for developmental math students not majoring in science or math. Developing Mathematical Thinking (MATD 0385) recognizes many degrees do not require advanced algebra or calculus; students instead benefit from a solid understanding of measurement, statistics, and introductory algebra.Â

Students’ success in the course and the subsequent college-level math course has been notable. In fall 2011, nearly 78 percent of MATD 0385 students earned an A, B, or C, compared with less than 53 percent of students in other developmental math courses. In addition, students who successfully complete MATD 0385 are more likely to pass College Math (MATH 1332, a credit course) than students who did not take MATD 0385.

“We are starting to see great results in this area and are always striving to do better,” says Dr. Rhodes. “By measuring our students’ outcomes and using that data to drive decisions, we help ensure ACC is giving students the best opportunities to succeed.”

To learn more about ACC’s Student Success Initiative, visit

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