Tribal Colleges and Universities Begin Strengthening Data Capacity for Student Success

Achieving the Dream Lends Expertise in Creating a Culture of Evidence

Silver Spring, MD (January 18, 2017) – The American Indian Higher Education Consortium (AIHEC) and Achieving the Dream (ATD) launched a two-year initiative at eight small, rural tribal colleges and universities (TCUs) designed to increase student success and completion by strengthening the colleges’ use of data and technology.

The Leona M. and Harry B. Helmsley Charitable Trust awarded AIHEC $200,000 to fund the initiative, called Building TCU Capacity for Equity, Evidence and Excellence.  Achieving the Dream, a national non-profit leader in community college reform, is providing technical assistance to the participating two- and four-year institutions.

Under resourced colleges often lack the fundamental institutional capacities that enable them to undertake the kinds of whole-college transformation efforts such as structured pathways and developmental education reform that lead to significant improvement in student outcomes. Building data and technology capacity is particularly important at TCUs, which have student populations that are at least 85 percent American Indians and Alaska Natives and first generation college students from high-poverty rural communities.

“Achieving the Dream is very pleased to be working with AIHEC and the tribal colleges in this initiative focused on building a culture of evidence and inquiry,” said Dr. Karen A. Stout, President and CEO of Achieving the Dream. “More than a decade of reform work with more than 200 community colleges has shown us that helping colleges learn to ask for their data, understand it, believe it and use it to lay the groundwork for big advances in student success.”

The colleges selected to participate in the initiative include:

  • Blackfeet Community College (MT)
  • Cankdeska Cikana Community College (ND)
  • College of Menominee Nation (WI)
  • Institute of American Indian Arts (NM)
  • Lac Courte Oreilles Ojibwa Community College (WI)
  • Saginaw Chippewa Tribal College (MI)
  • Turtle Mountain Community College (ND)
  • United Tribes Technical College (ND)

On December 15-16, 2016, the initiative formally began with teams from participating colleges, AIHEC and ATD staff plus the ATD data coaches who will provide hands-on technical assistance convening in South Dakota. The meeting helped teams prepare to build data capacity to support three key student success metrics: persistence, progression and completion.

Prioritizing these metrics will help colleges strengthen their capacity to assess student needs, monitor student progress, evaluate policies and practices, and inform decision-making and resource allocation.

Over the course of the initiative, ATD coaches also will assist the participating colleges in learning to prepare disaggregated, longitudinal student cohort data, conduct survey and qualitative analyses, and analyze data to diagnose academic challenges, leakage points and performance gaps among student groups.

AIHEC will periodically convene participating colleges and other TCUs in a community of practice to share strategies, successes and challenges.

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Achieving the Dream, Inc. is a national nonprofit that is dedicated to helping more community college students, particularly low-income students and students of color, stay in school and earn a college certificate or degree. Evidence-based, student-centered, and built on the values of equity and excellence, Achieving the Dream is closing achievement gaps and accelerating student success nationwide by: 1) guiding evidence-based institutional improvement, 2) leading policy change, 3) generating knowledge, and 4) engaging the public. Conceived as an initiative in 2004 by Lumina Foundation and seven founding partner organizations, today, Achieving the Dream is leading the most comprehensive non-governmental reform network for student success in higher education history. With over 200 institutions, more than 100 coaches and advisors, and 15 state policy teams - working throughout 35 states and the District of Columbia – the Achieving the Dream National Reform Network helps more than 4 million community college students have a better chance of realizing greater economic opportunity and achieving their dreams.

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