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Active Student Success Initiatives in Michigan (link to PDF version)


Accelerated Learning Program ( - The Accelerated Learning Program (ALP) is a form of mainstreaming developmental education created at the Community College Baltimore County that is being piloted at community colleges across the country. ALP, which is a co-requisite model for delivery of developmental writing instruction concurrently with a college level course, attempts to combine the strongest features of earlier mainstreaming approaches and to raise the success rates and lower the attrition rates for students placed in developmental writing.  Nineteen Michigan community colleges were involved in the two rounds of ALP implementation: Bay, Glen Oaks, Gogebic, Grand Rapids, Henry Ford, Jackson, Kalamazoo Valley, Kellogg, Lake Michigan, Lansing, Macomb, Montcalm, Mott, Muskegon, North Central, Oakland, Southwestern, St. Clair County, and West Shore. Currently, seven colleges report fully scaled ALP implementation.


Achieving the Dream ( - Achieving the Dream (ATD) is a national nonprofit that is dedicated to helping more community college students, particularly low-income students and students of color, stay in school and earn a college certificate or degree. Evidence-based, student-centered, and built on the values of equity and excellence, ATD is closing achievement gaps and accelerating student success nationwide by: 1) improving results at institutions, 2) influencing public policy, 3) generating knowledge, and 4) engaging the public. Seventeen community colleges have participated in ATD since it first began in Michigan in 2007: Bay, Delta, Glen Oaks, Grand Rapids, Henry Ford, Jackson, Lansing, Lake Michigan, Macomb, Montcalm, Mott, Muskegon, North Central, Oakland, St. Clair County, Washtenaw, and Wayne County. Bay, Macomb, North Central, and Wayne County have also been named “Leader Colleges” as part of this initiative.


Benefits Access for College Completion ( - Benefits Access for College Completion (BACC) will test innovative approaches to increase the number of students earning postsecondary credentials in seven community and technical colleges across the country. BACC will help colleges develop and institutionalize scalable and sustainable organizational and funding policies and practices that connect low-income students to an array of public benefits, such as food assistance and health insurance.   Lake Michigan and Macomb participated in pilots for this initiative.


Career and College Readiness Partnership - The Michigan Community College Association, Presidents Council State Universities of Michigan and the Michigan Department of Education received a grant from the American Association of State Colleges and Universities to promote awareness of Michigan’s career and college readiness standards. The expected outcomes of the project include learning how key stakeholders perceive career and college readiness, obtaining input on how to best prepare Michigan citizens, businesses, organizations, K-12 and postsecondary for the new standards and assessments, and creating a plan of action that incorporates a communications plan that promotes awareness about the career and college readiness standard.


Consortium for Michigan Veteran Educators ( - The primary goal of the Consortium of Michigan Veteran Educators is to increase the number of service members, and their families, who take advantage of the educational benefits that are available to them such as the G.I. Bill. As part of this critical goal, the members of the consortium are also focused on ensuring veterans that enroll in Michigan’s public postsecondary institutions receive the support they need to successfully complete a credential that will lead to gainful employment and productive lives. A secondary goal of the Consortium is to serve as a convener of college and university staff to provide for professional development opportunities and sharing of best practices to better support the student veteran population. All 28 community colleges and 15 public universities are members of this consortium.


Credentials that Work ( - Credentials That Work seeks to utilize innovations in the collection and use of real-time labor market information to better align investments in education and training with the needs of the economy. Stronger alignment will ensure that education credentials have high value for both workers and employers.  14 colleges from Michigan are involved in this work initially: Bay, Delta, Grand Rapids, Kellogg, Lake Michigan, Lansing, Macomb, Mott, North Central, Oakland, Schoolcraft, St. Clair County, Washtenaw, and West Shore.


Credit When It’s Due ( - Several national foundations came together to support partnerships between community colleges and universities that significantly scale-up approaches to awarding associate degrees to the many students who transfer from community colleges to universities before receiving the associates degree when students demonstrate the learning required for the degree. This is an approach commonly known as “reverse transfer” or “transfer back.” All 28 community colleges and 15 public universities in Michigan have joined similar efforts in 14 other states: Arkansas, Colorado, Florida, Georgia, Hawaii, Maryland, Minnesota, Missouri, New York, North Carolina, Ohio, Oregon, Tennessee, and Texas.


Michigan’s CWID initiative was predicated on leveraging state policy that was pushing colleges and universities to enter into reverse transfer agreements at the local. Legislative language directed universities to enter into at least three local agreements by January 2013 and corresponding language encouraging community colleges to be active partners in these agreements has spurred a significant amount of dialogue in the state. This initiative has also spurred institutions to think more proactively about the policies and procedures that serve as barriers to associate’s degree attainment. To date, more than 125 agreements have been signed between public two- and four-year institutions. Conversations are converging toward creating common statewide principles that would make this entire process more efficient and easier to communicate to students. While institutions continue to refine and improve the steps in this process, initial data collected in October 2015 indicate that more than 900 degrees have already been awarded through these formal agreements.


Degree Qualification Profile ( - The Degree Qualifications Profile is a framework that illustrates what students should be expected to know and be able to do after earning regardless of major or specialization. Michigan is represented in a group of community colleges nationally that have formed consortium focused on applying the DQP in the two-year sector. Nine Michigan colleges have been involved in this effort: Bay, Glen Oaks, Henry Ford, Macomb, Mid-Michigan, North Central, Northwestern, Washtenaw, and West Shore.


Faculty Leadership Development - The Michigan Center for Student Success makes a deliberate effort to identify, develop and promote faculty members as leaders within a broader student success agenda at Michigan community colleges.  As “grassroots leaders,” faculty members make unique contributions to student success initiatives on their campus and beyond.  Through its faculty-led initiatives, MCSS provides multiple venues where existing and emerging faculty leaders are supported through networking, professional development and recognition.

Gateways to Completion (  – Three community colleges (Kalamazoo Valley, Lansing and Washtenaw) and five universities (Eastern Michigan, Oakland, University of Michigan—Dearborn, Wayne State and Western Michigan) are working with the John N. Gardner Foundation to implement the redesign of selected gateway courses to reduce DWFI rates in these “killer courses” and support progression toward a degree.


Guided Pathways Institute An overwhelming number of programmatic choices coupled with poorly aligned support systems present significant challenges to students as they attempt to get on and stay on a clear path toward a credential. Building on the work of notably national initiatives like Completion by Design and High-Impact Practices for Community College Engagement, Michigan colleges will work to tackle institution-wide structural issues the serve as obstacles to students by articulating tighter programmatic pathways that integrate student supports in impactful ways. MCSS will work with two cohorts of twelve Michigan colleges, starting in 2015 and 2016 respectively, to build awareness of and capacity for this pathways work over the next three years. The activities with the two cohorts will include a series of institutes to convene colleges around the guided pathways principles; a self-assessment of colleges will use to gauge their readiness to engage in this work, and ongoing technical assistance from a team of national experts.


Institutional Learning Community – Housed at Oakland University and supported by the Kresge foundation as an outgrowth of the annual Student Success Conference, the ILC meets twice a year to focus on a student success topic of interest to both two and four year colleges.  For the inaugural year, the topic is reducing DWFI rates in gateway courses.  Meetings are open to all community colleges and public universities.


Math Pathways to Completion – sponsored by the Dana center at the University of Texas at Austin, MPC uses a strategy of organizing a state-level math task force to establish a vision for math pathways in that state. Over the three-year project, the Dana Center will help each state make that vision a reality at the institutional level. The goal is to dramatically improve the success of students in developmental and gateway mathematics courses by implementing math pathways at scale within that state.  Participating states include Arkansas, Michigan, Missouri, Oklahoma and Washington.


Michigan Student Success Network – The Michigan Student Success Network (MSSN) is a set of quarterly meetings on crosscutting topics related to student success. Colleges are encouraged to send teams of 2 to 4 representing different divisions and functional areas to these one-day meetings. The teams vary depending on the topic discussed. Previous meetings have focused on diverse topics including the assessment of readiness for college-level work, student mobility among postsecondary institutions, and the “right math at the right time.” The quarterly meetings culminate each year at the Student Success Summit held in September. All 28 community college routinely send teams to these meetings.


Michigan Transfer Agreement ( - In 2012, the Michigan legislature created this committee to focus on improving the transferability of core college courses between community colleges and universities. The work of this committee resulted in the creation of the Michigan Transfer Agreement (MTA), which took effect in fall 2014, and will streamline the transferability of the first 30 credits among postsecondary institutions. All Michigan community colleges have signed on to the MTA.


Postsecondary State Policy Network ( - The Postsecondary State Policy Network is a multistate collaboration committed to advancing state policies that accelerate community college student success and completion. The network evolved out of the policy efforts for the Achieving the Dream National Reform Network. Michigan is one of 11 states involved in this network that are continuing their work with support from Achieving the Dream and the Completion by Design and Student Success Center initiatives.


Project Win-Win ( - Starting in 2011, Project Win-Win involved 64 community colleges in nine states: Florida, Louisiana, Michigan, Missouri, New York, Ohio, Oregon, Virginia, and Wisconsin. These institutions worked to identify former students who had accumulated a significant number of credits, but were not awarded a degree nor were they enrolled in any institution. The colleges then reached out to these students whose records indicated that they were already eligible for an associate’s degree and awarded the credential. Simultaneously, participating institutions identified students who were “academically short” of an associate’s degree by no more than 12 credits and sought to bring them back to complete the degree. Nine Michigan colleges were involved in the first round of Project Win-Win: Bay, Henry Ford, Lake Michigan, Mott, North Central, Northwestern, Oakland, St. Clair County, and Southwestern. A second round of twelve colleges was launched in August 2014 including Alpena, Delta, Glen Oaks, Gogebic, Grand Rapids, Jackson, Lansing, Kirtland, Montcalm, Washtenaw, Wayne County, and West Shore.  As of Spring 2016, more than 2,000 associate degrees have been awarded through Project Win-Win. 


Voluntary Framework of Accountability ( - The Voluntary Framework of Accountability (VFA) is the first comprehensive national accountability system created by community colleges, for community colleges. Community college leaders—facilitated by the American Association of Community Colleges (AACC)—conceived, developed, and pilot-tested the VFA metrics. 24 Michigan community colleges are participating in and will leverage the VFA to better understand how their students are performing both individually and collectively.


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