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ECC achieves ‘Leader College’ status

Updated: December 15, 2012 6:20AM

ELGIN — Elgin Community College is the only school in Illinois recognized this year by the nonprofit Achieving the Dream organization as a “Leader College” in the national student completion movement, the college announced Tuesday.

That also makes ECC one of only 14 institutions nationwide designated a 2012 Leader College by Achieving the Dream. The national group awards that designation to community colleges that demonstrate sustained improvement in student outcomes, according to its website.

“Elgin Community College is honored to be recognized as an Achieving the Dream Leader College,” Elgin Community College President David Sam said in a written statement.

“Our faculty and staff have been working diligently to make data-informed decisions to help close achievement gaps and remove barriers for our students. This distinction affirms the outstanding leadership of our faculty members, administrators, staff and board of trustees as they support our students in their daily efforts to achieve their dreams.”

Elgin Community College has been part of the Achieving the Dream program for three years, making this the first year the college was eligible to apply for this recognition.

Colleges must demonstrate commitment to and progress on the principles of Achieving the Dream to be recognized as a Leader College, according to the nonprofit’s website. Those principles include committed leadership, use of evidence to improve programs and services, broad engagement, and systemic institutional improvement all guided by a student-centered vision focused on equity and excellence.

Leader Colleges also must show at least three years of improvement in one of the program’s measures of student success, according to the website.

Returns, completions

At Elgin Community College, the number of students who returned from the fall semester to the spring semester increased from 67 percent in 2006 to 78 percent in 2010, according to the college. During that time, that number also increased among students who are black (51 to 67 percent), Hispanic (67 to 80 percent) or in developmental education courses (72 to 78 percent).

The number of courses successfully completed also increased, from 67 percent of all course enrollments in 2006 to 72 percent in 2012. And the number of completed degrees and certificates increased by 11 percent (from 9 to 20 percent) from 2006 through 2008.

Many of the measures that are part of Achieving the Dream were things the community college already was doing before it joined the program, according to Sam.

But, he said, “We could not really compare the progress we were making because we weren’t as data-driven.”

The community college also credited many of its gains to the Alliance for College Readiness, its partnership with Elgin School District U46, Carpentersville-based Community Unit School District 300, Burlington Central Community Unit School District 301 and St. Charles Community Unit School District 303. It also has redesigned its first-year experience to support all incoming degree- or certificate-seeking students and made a series of changes to its developmental education program, according to the college.

“We are proud of ECC for earning this respected distinction,” said Rachel Singer, Achieving the Dream vice president for community college relations and applied research.

“ECC has raised the bar on promising practices that will impact policies to help more students succeed. They deserve recognition for their dedication to the student success movement.”

Achieving the Dream Inc. is dedicated to helping more community college students, particularly low-income students and students of color, stay in school and earn a college certificate or degree, according to its website.

More information about ECC’s involvement in Achieving the Dream is at

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