Chattanooga, Tenn. (TN Tribune)–Achieving the Dream (ATD), a national nonprofit dedicated to advancing community colleges as hubs of equity and mobility in their communities, has designated Chattanooga State Community College as a Leader College of Distinction for 2023, one of ATD’s top nationwide honors.

ChattState Leader College of Distinction
The designation was announced on Feb. 16 at ATD’s annual DREAM Conference in Chicago, attended by representatives of more than 300 member colleges across the nation. ChattState has been a member of the ATD Network since 2016 and has held Leader College status since 2020. ChattState is one of only three colleges awarded Leader College of Distinction status, a higher honor, for 2023, and the only one of the three earning the designation this year for the first time. Sixteen other colleges were designated Leader Colleges.

“These colleges set a high standard of excellence, not just within the ATD Network but across the higher education field,” said Dr. Karen A. Stout, president and CEO of Achieving the Dream. “These institutions are undertaking the challenging, systemic work needed to produce transformative results for the students and communities they serve. We are delighted to recognize their achievements and proud to continue working as partners in their sustained efforts to serve their communities.”

Dr. Rebecca Ashford, Chattanooga State president, said “I am incredibly proud of the faculty and staff who have boldly transformed the student learning experience to increase our student success outcomes. I am also proud of our students who have worked hard to achieve success. This recognition from Achieving the Dream is a testament to our commitment to our mission to deliver accessible, innovative learning opportunities that surpass expectations to fulfill our purpose of empowering everyone in our community to learn without limits. I am humbled to be part of the Chattanooga State team.”

ATD created the Leader College of Distinction award in 2018 to recognize colleges that have pursued and met challenging student success goals. Leader Colleges of Distinction must improve three or more student outcome metrics and reduce equity gaps in at least two metrics for at least two student groups. These requirements recognize and motivate sustained and proactive reform efforts that significantly improve student success and equity.

ChattState has implemented evidence-based best practices known to improve student success which has contributed to its transformation in progress. Over the last four years, the success rates of students completing Gateway English and Math courses at ChattState has increased from 48.7% to 59.9%, an 11-percentage point increase. During this same time, the equity gap in Gateway English and Math courses between White and Black students decreased from 24% to 9%, a 15 percentage-point improvement. In this time, the overall success rates of credits completed increased from 63% to 68%, an increase of 4.4 percentage points. Our fall 2021 implementation of 7-week courses improved course success rates by six to 10 points for Black, Hispanic, and White students. In addition, low-income student success increased by 14% in this new semester format.

ChattState is part of the ATD Network, comprised of 300+ colleges committed to advancing equity and supporting student success at their institutions and throughout their communities.

Chattanooga State’s media release:

Achieving the Dream’s announcement: