SMCC Achieving the Dream team focuses on three strategic areas

SMCC’s Achieving the Dream team has developed an action plan and begun implementing strategies to ensure more students complete their education and have greater opportunity for success.

Achieving the Dream is now approaching the halfway point of its three-year grant aimed at helping SMCC use data-based approaches to improve student outcomes. The Achieving the Dream team so far has analyzed data, developed a student success action plan and created work teams focused on equity, financial literacy and student success.

“We are now executing plans to ensure that no matter where a student comes from or what their backgrounds are, SMCC is committed and strategically focused on students’ individual success,” said Tim Dunne, SMCC’s Dean of Information Technology and the co-chair of the ATD Student Success Core Team. “Achieving the Dream helps us make data-informed choices to sharpen our focus and achieve our priorities.”

Based on data research, SMCC’s Achieving the Dream group is developing strategies in three areas to improve student outcomes. They are:

Student Financial Health

  • Develop outreach methods for financial awareness month in February 2019.
  • Promote the FAFSA (Free Application for Federal Student Aid) by organizing a drawing for a free semester of courses for students who fill out the FAFSA before Feb. 28.
  • Determine best practices for helping students manage the financial responsibilities of going to college.

Student Success/Early Connection

  • Develop a student intake survey for new students to create a holistic student profile accessible by everyone.
  • Design and launch new FIG (First-year Interest Group) courses for Fall 2019.
  • Establish best practices for orientation based on results from a survey created for students participating in orientation.

Course Success and Equity

  • Define equity for SMCC and determine how professional development will be geared toward creating equitable situations for SMCC students.
  • Design and implement professional development around professional learning communities in which faculty work together to analyze and improve classroom practices.
  • Offer group professional development opportunities during Faculty Professional Day in January 2019.

Achieving the Dream has already served as the impetus for changes in SMCC’s approach to mathematics. The College’s efforts to change its approach to math took off after SMCC became part of the ATD network, resulting in new “math pathways” that students may follow depending on their program of study.

The College now offers five math pathways: algebra, statistics, quantitative reasoning, math for educators, and technical math. Representatives of all of SMCC’s academic departments worked with the math team to determine which of the new pathways were most appropriate for their courses and programs.

For example, business programs are now part of the quantitative reasoning and statistics pathway, while the automotive technology program dropped its requirements for algebra and trigonometry and replaced them with a math course in the technical math pathway.

SMCC’s ATD team also recently created a communications team to keep the SMCC community informed on the ATD process.

SMCC joined the ATD network in 2017 after The Kresge Foundation awarded an $810,000 grant to The Foundation for Maine’s Community Colleges, allowing SMCC and the state’s other community colleges to join ATD. Through its network of more than 220 community college nationwide, Achieving the Dream is helping more than 4 million community college students achieve their educational goals.

For more information, visit SMCC’s Achieving the Dream webpage.