ACC Recognized as Leader in National Success Initiative

Achieving the Dream, a national initiative to promote student success at community colleges, named Austin Community College a 2013 Leader College – recognizing ACC’s commitment to improving student outcomes and elevating the importance of completion milestones in a student’s education.

“It is with great honor that we announce Austin Community College as a 2013 Leader College,” said Carol Lincoln, Achieving the Dream Senior Vice President. “ACC is truly focused on improvement at scale. The college is working hard to ensure that it is moving the needle for whole cohorts of students and should be given recognition for its relentless efforts and promising achievements.”

“This recognition reflects the hard work of our faculty and staff to really connect with students and give them a viable pathway to graduation and an in-demand career,” says Dr. Richard Rhodes, ACC president/CEO. “ACC is constantly looking for ways to redesign curriculum, boost student engagement, and innovate what happens in and out of the classroom – and the data show that our commitment is working.”

Leader Colleges epitomize Achieving the Dream values and are asked to support other member institutions and share best practices.

Achieving the Dream invited ACC to become a member of the initiative in 2009 based on the college’s ongoing efforts to increase student success. The college’s commitment to success centers on five goals:

Goal 1: Improve student persistence (staying in school semester to semester and year to year)

Goal 2: Increase student progression from developmental and adult education courses to credit courses

Goal 3: Increase completion of all attempted courses with a C or better

Goal 4: Increase degree/certificate graduates and transfer rates

Goal 5: Increase success equity across all racial/ethnic/gender/income groups

To reach these goals, ACC has implemented or is developing a variety of programs, such as mandatory orientation, service learning, enhanced student support services, and courses that feature collaborative learning. For example, ACC recently redesigned a key component of developmental math, which is one of the biggest challenges for students nationwide. “Developing Mathematical Thinking” (MATD 0385) emphasizes math-specific study skills, builds self-confidence, and facilitates collaborative rather than lecture-based learning. MATD 0385 has the highest pass rate of ACC’s developmental math courses: 70 percent to 80 percent compared with about 50 percent for other courses. In addition, students who complete MATD 0385 have a higher overall success rate in their next math class compared with other students.

“In MATD 0385, we have classrooms full of successful mathematics students – students who are more engaged and self-confident,” says Dr. Constance Elko, chair of the Math Department. “That mathematics success is critical to their overall college success.”

ACC also supports the use of completion milestones to measure student progress through higher education. These points include the achievement of college-level skills, attainment of the first 15 and 30 credit hours, completion of college math and writing-intensive courses, and completion of associate degrees, certificates, and university transfers.

A major part of ACC’s commitment to student success is applying student data to make decisions. In naming ACC a Leader College, Achieving the Dream highlighted the college’s Faculty Coach program, which teaches faculty in all departments to use and analyze data to affect change at the classroom level.

“By looking at data, we are able to identify areas where we’re doing well – and areas where we need to focus more attention and make improvements,” says Dr. Rhodes. “That approach allows students to learn more effectively and reach their goals faster.”

ACC is among eight colleges nationwide given the 2013 Leader College recognition. For more information on student success at ACC, visit To learn about Achieving the Dream, see

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