AC Granted Elite Leader-College Status in Achieving the Dream

Sept. 24, 2014

Amarillo College soared to all-new heights on Sept. 24, when the foremost authority on community-college achievement—Achieving the Dream—designated AC as one of 16 elite Leader Colleges for 2014.

The milestone announcement came less than four years after AC’s acceptance into Achieving the Dream, a highly selective, nationwide consortium of about 200 community colleges collectively bent on improving student success through data-informed decision-making.

Not only will AC’s selection as a Leader College open doors to important broad-based policy-writing teams and unique funding opportunities exclusively targeting these elite few, it also serves as affirmation that the College’s No Excuses Plan is making a difference.

“We are thrilled because our students deserve to be at a Leader College,” AC President Russell Lowery-Hart said. “Our community deserves to be home to a Leader College. We intend to continue to give students life-defining experiences.”

Since joining the consortium in March of 2011, AC has instituted a series of initiatives aimed at improving student success, efforts leading to expansion of tutoring services, proliferation of the Honors Program and international travel opportunities, significant course redesign to accelerate completion, a systemic approach to issues of poverty, and a great deal more—all under AC’s No Excuses umbrella.

As a result, AC has become the epitome of a Leader College by demonstrating gains over the past three years in the percentage of students who: complete initial college-level courses; persist from one semester to the next; complete courses with a grade of C or better; and either earn a certificate or degree or successfully transfer credits elsewhere.

“Amarillo College has demonstrated that better student outcomes are possible when the focus is on policies and practices that help students learn at high levels and overcome challenges life throws at them,” Carol Lincoln, Achieving the Dream senior vice president, said.

“AC clearly is working hard to move the needle for whole cohorts of students and deserves recognition for these relentless efforts and promising achievements.”

Conceived in 2004 by the Lumina Foundation for Education, Achieving the Dream is a national non-profit built on the belief that broad institutional changes based on student-achievement data is critical to significantly improving student success rates. With guidance of Achieving the Dream coaches, member colleges align their overall policies to implement key student supports.

Leader College designation is granted in three-year cycles. After three years, institutions must undergo a recertification process to maintain Leader College status. Since 2009, Achieving the Dream has granted Leader College status to a total of 80 active Achieving the Dream institutions.