Achieving the Dream recertifies ACC’s ‘Leader College’ status

ATD-Leader-CollegeAchieving the Dream, the national initiative aimed at improving student success at community colleges, has recertified Austin Community College as a Leader College.

Leader Colleges are considered exemplars in improving student outcomes and elevating the importance of completion milestones. To earn Leader College status, institutions must show three years of steady improvement in at least two measures of student success.

“Leader College status represents a sustained, successful effort to build a student-centered culture,” says Dr. Karen A. Stout, president and CEO of Achieving the Dream. “Colleges that stay focused on the hard work of transformation deserve to be recognized when they make measurable progress.”

ACC was first named a Leader College in 2013. Leader Colleges must undergo a recertification process every three years.

“This recertification affirms we are moving the needle on student success,” says Dr. Richard Rhodes, ACC president/CEO. “Leader College status reflects our efforts to connect with students and ensure they accomplish their goals. It also inspires us to pursue even higher levels of student achievement and engagement.”

In recent years ACC has implemented a number of programs to improve student achievement, such as mandatory orientation, a required student success course for first-time college students, and classes that feature collaborative and self-paced learning. The initiatives are accompanied by ongoing data-collecting that guides collegewide priorities and classroom-level strategies.

The efforts have led to gains in student performance measures such as persistence (staying in school year-to-year), progression from developmental and adult education courses to credit courses, and successful course completions.

Leader Colleges are encouraged to share best practices with other Achieving the Dream institutions and support state and national efforts to advance the student success agenda. They also can compete for grant-funded opportunities, such as the recent Achieving the Dream Open Educational Resources (OER) Degree Initiative. ACC was selected to participate in a consortium of colleges that will develop degrees that can be completed using free or low-cost online materials.

ACC was one of 17 Leader Colleges recertified this year. To learn more about Achieving the Dream, visit

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