Oceanside CA— MiraCosta College has been selected for an ambitious, nationwide educational reform network titled ‘Achieving the Dream‘ that has a long record of boosting graduation and transfer rates at community colleges across the country.
The college’s participation in the Achieving the Dream National Reform Network begins in June with seminars and an orientation, followed by months of research and planning aimed at developing new strategies to improve student outcomes.
“Achieving the Dream will assist our college in supporting a deeper level of faculty engagement and focusing on scalable and sustainable actions, as well as more comprehensive interventions offered to the students who need them,” said MiraCosta College Superintendent/President Sunita “Sunny” Cooke.
The district has been awarded a three-year, $120,000 matching grant from the Kresge Foundation to take part in Achieving the Dream. The Kresge Foundation’s Education Program focuses on expanding student access to higher education and opening avenues to student success, particularly for those from historically underserved communities.
MiraCosta College, based in Oceanside, has about 15,000 credit students at its Oceanside and Cardiff campuses, plus online.
Achieving the Dream’s vision is to lead the most comprehensive, evidence-based reform movement for community college student success in higher education history, resulting in significantly improved lives and greater global economic competitiveness.
Detailed plans of how the college district will move forward will be developed over the next year. As part of the Achieving the Dream Network, the college receives an array of resources, including expert, one-on-one coaching, grant opportunities to facilitate institutional change, and access to webinars and other professional development programs.
The Achieving the Dream National Reform Network includes more than 200 colleges, 20 investors, and 100 coaches and advisers working throughout 34 states and the District of Columbia to help some 3.8 million community college students have a greater chance of earning a degree and achieving greater economic success.
“It’s all about student success,” said Mike Fino, chair of MiraCosta College’s biotechnology department who also serves as president of the district’s Academic Senate.
Fino said MiraCosta College’s effort would begin with a year of mining academic records to create a database that would include such things as the demographics of students taking basic skills courses and their completion rates. “From there, you define and implement the programs and interventions that can make a difference.”
New programs can include strategic partnerships with industry and collaborating with neighboring education systems.
Achieving the Dream has helped community colleges boost student success across the country for more than a decade.
“When I was in Texas, my college district joined Achieving the Dream and the sustained efforts there are evident,” Cooke said. “The work is not easy and it is not short-term nor is it a quick-fix. It is about engaging the college broadly in undertaking systemic change to move the needle on student success. I feel that this will really make a difference at MiraCosta College.”