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Progress in the First Five Years: An Evaluation of Achieving the Dream Colleges in Washington State

By: Davis Jenkins, Monica Reid Kerrigan, John Wachen & Alexander K. Mayer


In 2006, six community and technical colleges in Washington State joined the innovative national reform initiative called Achieving the Dream (ATD). This report describes the progress each college made in implementing ATD’s “culture of evidence” principles for institutional improvement, examines strategies implemented by the colleges to improve student success, and charts trends in student outcomes in the period before and after the colleges began their participation.

All but one of the colleges made at least some progress in building a culture of evidence. Four ofthe colleges made significant systemic changes to programs, services, and instructional practices. Yet, most of their work was focused on helping students upon their entry to college. We argue that the Washington ATD colleges and others pursuing similar goals should also examine how they can help students better enter and complete a program of study if they hope to improve student completion and success.

This paper was updated in October 2013 to correct an error in the title of Appendix Figure C.1.