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Lessons from Achieving the Dream for Federal Efforts to Improve College Completion Rates

Jobs for the Future

President Barack Obama has called for intensified efforts to increase degree attainment in the United States, arguing that raising education attainment rates will sustain and enhance the country’s economic competitiveness globally.

This discussion paper highlights the lessons learned by the Achieving the Dream: Community Colleges Count initiative about improving higher education outcomes and seeks to leverage the important work underway in colleges and states around the country to help make student success in postsecondary education an important national goal.

This paper highlights Achieving the Dream’s emphasis on institution-wide change and data-driven improvement strategies, which has served as a catalyst for significant improvement in community college student outcomes. It also outlines the integral role state policy support has played in the initiative as states have explored ways to alter resource allocation, rules, and procedures to be more supportive of colleges’ student success initiatives.