Last year a new program was implemented at Pierce College to help increase the number of students that successfully graduate with a degree or certificate. However, the concept of Achieving the Dream isn’t a program that raises numbers and then ends.
“The thing about Achieving the Dream is that it is not a program. We want to change the culture,” math professor Tom McCollow said. “This is not a program with a beginning and end; it is continuous.”
In essence, Achieving the Dream uses data measurements about students to implement interventions to aid students in being more successful. Ultimately, the program will now always be in action at Pierce College working on improving the number of students getting to completion.
There are five specific areas in which students are being measured that’ll help create the new solutions. The first area being reviewed is retention, which is how many students return to Pierce College on a year-to-year and quarter-to-quarter basis.
Achieving the Dream then looks at three categories of class type, and the number of students that pass with a 2.0 GPA or higher.
The first of the class types are developmental classes such as Math 51, or any other below 100 level classes. These are essential to many returning students who need to re-learn content before being able to take classes to earn a degree or certificate.
Next, the number of students passing in gateway courses such as English 101 and Math 98 are looked at. Classes such as these are often required for degrees or certificates or are taken by a majority of students.
Achieving the Dream looks at general classes.
The final component of the data being collected is the number of students that graduate with a degree or certificate.
At Pierce, Achieving the Dream is in its second year, so retention is still the main focus of the data being looked at.
“Over the last three years, we have seen a steady increase in the retention in students,” McCollow said.
From 2010 to 2011, the amount of students returning to Pierce fall quarter to the next fall quarter was 51 percent, and from 2012 to 2013 the rate was 58 percent. Similarly, from 2010 to 2011, the amount of students returning to Pierce fall quarter to winter quarter was 81 percent, and from 2012 to 2013 it was 85 percent.
The amount of students returning to forward their education has been steadily increasing.
While it’s still in its beginning phases, Achieving the Dream is already working in ways to improve education. For example, it has brought professors of both math and English together to collaborate on how to help students while they learn.
It’s these collaborations along with the data that’ll create the interventions to help students achieve more.
“We want to make changes, but use data to make decisions,” McCollow said.
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