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Teaching & Learning

Cultivating Regional Professional Learning Communities

| Jon Iuzzini and Dr. Tanya Scott

Research & Reports
February 1, 2023

A Facilitator’s Guide to Supporting Student-Focused Partnerships


Community colleges have a special role to play as hubs of equity, economic mobility, and community vitality. One way colleges can fulfill this role is by convening partners at a regional level to create educational pathways that lead to positive life outcomes. These partners may include educators from high schools, community colleges, and four-year institutions, as well as representatives from local employers and workforce development agencies. Together, they can form a team we refer to as a professional learning community (PLC).

Achieving the Dream has created Cultivating Regional Professional Learning Communities: A Facilitator’s Guide to Supporting Student-Focused Partnerships to help you build an effective team that examines and improves the student experience from high school through college and into employment.

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Network Insights, Community Efforts

This resource summarizes what we have learned in partnership with ATD Network colleges that have convened regional professional learning communities to foster deeper collaboration across K–12, higher education, and workforce partners. We share helpful strategies and tools to support your work and present four case studies showing how these efforts have unfolded in diverse communities across the country.

  • Cuyahoga Community College (OH) convened a diverse group representing K–12, workforce, and community college partners with the goal of helping more students finish high school with a plan to go into healthcare, a high-demand field regionally. The regional PLC created a new opportunity for partners to have deeper conversations about the students they serve, exploring gaps in healthcare pathways and challenges to student success.
  • Mott Community College (MI) addressed an opportunity gap by offering career technical education (CTE) college credit programming to high school students. Mott developed the Connect to Career framework, a pilot offering students a taste of career options and some college credit, which has found success thanks to broad cross-district collaboration.
  • Tallahassee Community College (FL) aimed to make college accessible to more students in its region by developing and implementing pathways for traditionally underserved learners. Inspired by conversations with PLC members, the college built a program focused supporting college access for as many students as possible, aligned to the workforce needs of their region.
  • Tyler Junior College (TX) spurred transformational change for its community and region by developing opportunities for students to earn postsecondary credentials while in high school. In collaboration with community partners, TJC worked to align regional efforts to make early college programs more accessible and effective for students.

As we release this guide, we are excited to support similar regional collaborations led by ATD Network colleges that serve as hubs for this essential work in their communities. While the primary audience for this guide is community colleges, the strategies and tools we provide can be used by any institution or organizations interested in convening these groups to work toward a common goal.

Cultivating Regional Professional Learning Communities

A Facilitator’s Guide to Supporting Student-Focused Partnerships

This Achieving the Dream resource explores how colleges can convene regional partners to address local needs while working together to remove systemic barriers to positive life outcomes.

Download the Guide

Cultivating Professional Learning Communities: A Facilitator's Guide to Supporting Student-Focused Partnerships

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