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Institutional Capacity Framework and Assessment Tool (ICAT)

Achieving the Dream’s Institutional Capacity Framework is a comprehensive approach to addressing the emerging needs of the field to improve results for all students, especially low-income students and students of color. The Institutional Capacity Framework is built on seven essential capacities for colleges to create the student-focused culture that promotes student success. Evidence shows colleges must be strong in each capacity area to take on any large-scale interventions. Our Institutional Capacity Assessment Tool (ICAT) helps colleges understand where they’ve been, so they can build a path forward grounded in the fundamentals that make transformation possible.

Learn more about the Institutional Capacity Assessment Tool

ATD revealed an updated version of the Institutional Capacity Framework — and the accompanying Institutional Capacity Assessment Tool (ICAT). Additional information will be available in the fall of 2024 as we roll it out to the ATD Network. More details will become available at that time. Meanwhile, you may preview the updated version of the ICAT to find out about some of the key changes you can expect. 

Learn more about the updated Institutional Capacity Assessment Tool
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Leadership & Vision

Clear and compelling vision for student success driving actionable priorities and a student-centered culture.

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Data & Technology

Capacity to collect, access, analyze, and leverage data to inform decisions, and to use powerful technology to support student success.

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Commitment, capabilities, and experiences of an institution to equitably serve low-income students, students of color, and other historically underserved student populations regarding access, success, and campus climate.

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Teaching & Learning

A central role for faculty and advisors as change agents committed to examining pedagogy, restructuring developmental education, and designing out-of-classroom supports to facilitate student success.

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Engagement & Communication

Strategic partnerships with the institution’s internal stakeholders and key external partners — such as K–12, universities, employers, and community-based organizations — to participate in the student success agenda and improvement of student outcomes.

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Strategy & Planning

Alignment with the umbrella goal of student success, translating the desired future into defined goals and objectives, and executing the actions to achieve them.

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Policies & Practices

Institutional policies and practices that impact student success, and the processes for examining and aligning policies and practices to remove barriers and foster student completion.

Contact Us

Learn more about how our Institutional Capacity Assessment Tool (ICAT) can give you actionable insights on your journey to whole-college transformation.

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Frequently Asked Questions

The Institutional Capacity Assessment Tool (ICAT) is an online self-assessment that helps colleges determine their current level of capacity in each of the seven key dimensions. The assessment is most useful when it is administered to a broad group of stakeholders, including representatives from the board of trustees, president’s cabinet, administrators, full-time and adjunct faculty, staff and student success teams. A discussion of the results with a cross-section of the college community as well as ATD Leadership and Data Coaches identifies strengths and areas in need of bolstering and generates actionable ideas.

The ICAT also provides colleges with additional benefits related to their accreditation cycle. The seven regional accrediting agencies have some variation in accreditation standards or criteria, but they have all adopted a cycle or process (often referred to as “closing the loop”) for colleges to use through the self-study or compliance certification process. The ICAT can provide an additional assessment tool that produces a numeric result with qualitative feedback from faculty and staff who participate in accreditation processes. Read the full publication on aligning the ICAT to accreditation.

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