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ATC news release

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Athens Technical College is one of just 30 community colleges nationwide to receive an invitation to join the 2011 cohort of Achieving the Dream: Community Colleges Count. Athens Technical College is the first institution in Georgia to participate in this national effort aimed at improving student success, closing achieving gaps, and increasing students' persistence and graduation rates.

As an Achieving the Dream college, Athens Technical College will undertake an in-depth quantitative and qualitative analysis of its strengths, problem areas, and achievement gaps.

President Flora W. Tydings said the college will use the findings of this analysis to develop and implement research-based policies and practices that improve student performance in a number of key areas. The long-term goal is to support more students enrolling in higher education and creating more college graduates who earn higher wages as part of a highly skilled national and state workforce.

Dr. Tydings said the decision to seek membership in Achieving the Dream came shortly after the college adopted a new strategic plan.

"We had spent more than two years discussing our future and what we wanted our college to look like in 2015," she said. "The overriding theme to emerge during this discussion was student success. Our faculty and staff wanted to know what we could do better that would help students realize their educational goals."

Dr. Tydings continued by saying that student success became the overriding focus of the strategic plan and that Achieving the Dream will provide the college with the means to accomplish the goals and objectives identified in this plan.

"Closing achievement gaps and improving student outcomes is extremely difficult work. The ambitious commitment of Athens Technical College is commendable," said William Trueheart, president and CEO of Achieving the Dream. "Adding 30 colleges to the Achieving the Dream national reform network means that 300,000 more students now have a better chance of earning a degree or credential, realizing greater economic opportunity, and achieving the American Dream.

Ron Jackson, commissioner of the Technical College System of Georgia (TCSG), said that Athens Technical College had the full support of the leadership of the TCSG, which is responsible for overseeing the state's 26 technical colleges.

"I am extremely pleased to learn that Athens Technical College will be the first college anywhere in Georgia to participate in this respected national effort to improve and enhance student success," Commissioner Jackson said. "Dr. Tydings and her faculty and staff are in a position to collaborate with Achieving the Dream and significantly influence how our system develops, trains, and supports our students in ways that enhance their ability to be successful and productive in their chosen career fields."

Conceived in 2004 by the Lumina Foundation for Education and seven founding partner organizations, Achieving the Dream and its signature Student-Centered Model of Institutional Improvement is focused on creating a culture of evidence in which data and inquiry drive institutional efforts to close achievement gaps and improve student outcomes overall. The Achieving the Dream model is designed to help more students earn postsecondary credentials.

With the addition of 30 community colleges in the 2011 cohort, the Achieving the Dream network now includes 160 institutions serving more than 2 million students annually in 30 states and the District of Columbia.

In addition to Athens Technical College, the 2011 cohort includes community colleges in California, Kentucky, Maine, Maryland, Minnesota, New Jersey, Ohio, Oregon, Texas, and Washington.

Achieving the Dream 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. The national initiative is building on the belief that broad institutional change, informed by student achievement data, is critical to efforts to improve student success rates significantly.

In addition to the Lumina Foundation for Education, Achieving the Dream continues to work closely with the following founding partners: American Association of Community Colleges; the Community College Leadership Program at The University of Texas at Austin; The Community College Research Center at Teachers College, Columbia University; Jobs for the Future; MDC; MRDC; and Public Agenda.