Achieving the Dream

(August 5, 2010) Norwalk Community College has been recognized as a leader in the national student completion movement by Achieving the Dream: Community Colleges Count.

Achieving the Dream designated NCC as an Achieving the Dream Leader College for demonstrating sustained improvement and accomplishments on key student achievement indicators.

“Norwalk Community College is honored to be named a Leader College because it recognizes the significant progress we’ve made in helping students persist and complete their degree or certificate,” said NCC President David L. Levinson, Ph.D.

Leader Colleges have demonstrated commitment to and progress on the four principles of Achieving the Dream: committed leadership, use of evidence to improve programs and services, broad engagement, and systemic institutional improvement.

Leader Colleges also have shown three years of sustained improvement of student success on at least one of the following measures of performance: course completion, advancement from remedial to credit-bearing courses, completion of college-level math and English courses, term-to-term and year-to-year retention, and completion of certificates or degrees. Additionally, each college has successfully implemented at least one student success intervention or initiative that is advancing student outcomes that are of sufficient scale to benefit a substantial proportion of students.


“Despite – or perhaps because of – the tough economic conditions, more community colleges across the country are focusing intensively on low student completion rates, and are implementing reforms to bolster student success,” said Achieving the Dream President and CEO, Dr. William E. Trueheart.“Norwalk Community College joins the ranks of now nearly 30 exemplary institutions that have made significant advances in the lives of their students across the country.”

Increasing the number of students who complete postsecondary education is an urgent national initiative. In 10 years, 60 percent of all jobs will require a college degree or specialized training. President Obama has announced billions of dollars in funding to community colleges to produce an additional 5 million graduates by 2020 and ensure the U.S. has the highest proportion of college graduates in the world. Once first in the world, America ranks currently ranks 10th in the percentage of young adults with a college degree

NCC President Levinson noted that many students—particularly low-income and minority students—have the ability and desire to earn a degree but face overwhelming obstacles on the road to graduation, including inadequate academic preparation, the pressure to support a family and lack of funds.

Since being named an Achieving the Dream College in 2006, Norwalk Community College has implemented several successful achievement initiatives. NCC has expanded Learning Communities (groups of students enrolled in paired courses), helped students to create e-portfolios (online journals of their academic and personal progress) and launched a Student Success Center which provides individualized academic and career counseling.

By establishing a Mathematics Recitation program, NCC also increased by 8 percent the number of new, first-time students completing the first college level math course (Intermediate Algebra) with a grade of C or better. During recitations, faculty review the week’s class materials. Nearly 20 percent of NCC mathematics students are voluntarily attending these recitation sessions to help them succeed in their classes.


Achieving the Dream: Community Colleges Count is a national nonprofit organization that helps more community college students succeed, particularly students of color and low-income students.

The organization works on multiple fronts — including efforts on campuses and in research, public engagement and public policy — and emphasizes the use of data to drive change. Launched as an initiative in 2004 with funding provided by Lumina Foundation for Education, Achieving the Dream is built on the belief that broad institutional change, informed by student achievement data, is critical to significantly improving student success rates.

Achieving the Dream is focused on creating a “culture of evidence” on community college campuses in which data collection and analysis drive efforts to identify problems that prevent students from succeeding—particularly low-income students and students of color—and develop programs to help them stay in school and receive a certificate or diploma or transfer to a four-year institution.

ATD Leader Colleges have identified workable solutions to issues such as enhancing the experience of first-year students, improving developmental education, closing achievement gaps, strengthening academic and personal advising for students in need of additional support, strengthening links to high schools and four-year institutions to improve student preparation, and increasing retention, persistence rates, and the number of certificate and degree recipients.

Achieving the Dream includes coaching to help colleges’ administrators, faculty, and staff lead institutional change and analyze quantitative and qualitative data. Institutions that wish to be considered a Leader College are rigorously assessed by Achieving the Dream on the five indicators of student performance. Together with the assessment of the college’s coach and data facilitator, a review team determines whether a college has earned the Leader College designation.

“We expect these colleges to serve as mentors within the Achieving the Dream community of learners, as well as advocates for the principles of Achieving the Dream,” Trueheart said. “Creating and implementing student success initiatives that have an enduring impact takes time and patience. It’s critical that we get it right and that we learn from institutions that have demonstrated success in key areas and have been able to maintain progress over time.”

Achieving the Dream’s network includes 130 institutions in 24 states and the District of Columbia, reaching more than one million students. Achieving the Dream continues to work closely with founding partners: the American Association of Community Colleges; the Community College Leadership Program at the University of Texas-Austin; the Community College Research Center, Teachers College, Columbia University; Jobs for the Future; MDC; MDRC; and Public Agenda.

(For more information on the Leader Colleges, Click Here)

NCC is An Achieving the Dream Leader College