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Achieving the Dream recognizes 16 Leader Colleges and 3 Leader Colleges of Distinction for their exemplary work to advance student success

News & Updates
February 16, 2023

Achieving the Dream (ATD) today announced that 19 colleges have earned Leader College or Leader College of Distinction status.  Among this group of colleges, Chattanooga State Community College (TN) has, for the first time, earned Leader College of Distinction status for demonstrating sustained and significant outcomes in the advancement of student success. In addition, two colleges—Alamo Colleges District (TX) and Harper College (IL) have recertified their Leader College of Distinction status. 

“These colleges set a high standard of excellence, not just within the ATD Network but across the higher education field,” said Dr. Karen A. Stout, president and CEO of Achieving the Dream. “These institutions are undertaking the challenging, systemic work needed to produce transformative results for the students and communities they serve. We are delighted to recognize their achievements and proud to continue working as partners in their sustained efforts to serve their communities.” 

ATD created the Leader College of Distinction award in 2018 to recognize colleges that have pursued and met challenging student success goals, often earning Leader College status several times. Leader Colleges of Distinction must show improvement in three or more student outcome metrics, including at least one lagging indicator such as completion or transfer with an earned baccalaureate. Leader Colleges of Distinction are also required to show they have reduced equity gaps in at least two metrics for at least two student groups. These requirements recognize and motivate sustained and proactive reform efforts that result in greater improvements in student success and equity. 

Sixteen community colleges from the ATD Network have earned Leader College status, having shown steady improvement in outcomes in student success.  

The cohort of five new Leader Colleges are: 

  • Coastal Bend College (TX)   
  • College of Lake County (IL) 
  • College of the Muscogee Nation (OK) 
  • Florida State College at Jacksonville (FL)   
  • Hudson County Community College (NJ) 

Eleven institutions have recertified their status as Leader Colleges: 

  • Broward College (FL) 
  • Community College of Allegheny County (PA) 
  • Edmonds College (WA)  
  • Houston Community College (TX) 
  • Muskegon Community College (MI) 
  • North Central Texas College (TX) 
  • Northern Virginia Community College (VA) 
  • Oakton College (IL)  
  • St. Petersburg College (FL)  
  • Southwestern Oregon Community College (OR)  
  • West Hills College Lemoore (CA) 

Leader Colleges play an important role in accelerating adoption of effective practices within the ATD Network and across higher education. ATD recognizes Leader Colleges for the quality of their work in whole-college reform, resulting in increased completion rates. Leader Colleges develop innovative ways to work with other colleges to share knowledge and facilitate an exchange of ideas about evidence-based reform strategies. 

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