Northeast, Walters State part of Achieving the Dream

Rick Wagner • Jul 3, 2018 at 8:00 PM

NASHVILLE — Northeast State and Walters State are among eight Tennessee community colleges accepted into the 2018 class of the Achieving the Dream Network, a national reform movement for student success.

It emphasizes a commitment to close academic achievement gaps for low-income and minority students and assistance to all students for academic success and economic opportunity.

“Everybody likes to use the term umbrella,” said Matt DeLozier, vice president of student affairs for Northeast. He said the program helps school pinpoint successes, areas where improvements are needed and unserved areas, using a data team that practices evidence-based inquiry that will be turned over to a core team to drive changes.

The addition means 12 of the 13 community colleges statewide, all but Cleveland State, are in the program encouraged by Tennessee Board of Regents Chancellor Flora W. Tydings as part of the College System of Tennessee’s commitment to student success, closing academic achievement gaps and improving graduation rates.

TBR Director of Communications Rick Locker said Cleveland State “is already in a separate program run directly by the American Association of Community Colleges, called Pathways, with similar goals and mission.

Created in 2004, Achieving the Dream founders include the Lumina Foundation, the American Association of Community Colleges, the Community College Research Center at Columbia University and the Community College Leadership Program at the University of Texas at Austin. It has grown into a national network of more than 220 community colleges.

“Walters State is pleased to be a part of the Achieving the Dream Network,” said Angie Smith, vice president of student affairs for Walters State. “Student success is at the core of our mission and informs our practices at the college. Being a part of this network allows us to continue our work with high impact practices that result in students achieving their education goals.”

Aside from Blountville-based Northeast and Morristown-based Walters State, Achieving the Dream’s new Tennessee members are Columbia, Dyersburg, Motlow, Nashville, Pellissippi and Volunteer states. Jackson and Roane states are concluding their third year, and Chattanooga State and Southwest Tennessee colleges are finishing their second year.

Before her appointment as chancellor, Tydings led two colleges that she served as president into ATD membership: Athens Technical College in Georgia and Chattanooga State Community College.

“Having led the first college in Georgia and one of the first in Tennessee into the program, I know the value of Achieving the Dream, and I believe in its mission of achievement and equity, its data-driven approach and the results that can be achieved,” Tydings said.

Colleges work toward Achieving the Dream for three years, establishing ATD teams on their campuses. The teams work closely with a leadership coach and a data coach assigned to them from ATD to help them set and achieve student success goals. In addition to the coaches, the ATD network provides colleges with a platform for scaling up effective evidence-based practices and policies, a set of peers to share knowledge and other sources of innovation.

Small teams from each of the 20 new member colleges participated in a three-day ATD Kickoff Institute in Cleveland, Ohio, in late June. DeLozier was among four from Northeast and said the kickoffs would look different among the eight schools this fall. The 20 new schools received an in-depth orientation to ATD, including how to leverage the power of the national network.