Community College of Allegheny County (CCAC)

Community College of Allegheny County

09/28/2011 -- CCAC named national leader college for student success

For more information, contact CCAC Public Relations.

PITTSBURGH—The Community College of Allegheny County (CCAC) is one of 23 institutions nationally to be named a Leader College by Achieving the Dream (ATD), a national nonprofit that helps 3.5 million community college students stay in school and earn a college certificate or degree. CCAC has been recognized for sustained progress and improvement in student success initiatives that support the national student completion movement.

“CCAC is proud to be honored for our commitment to student success,” said CCAC President Alex Johnson. “As a Leader College, we will continue and expand the innovative and successful programs that have helped students to reach their educational goals.”

Leader Colleges have demonstrated commitment to and progress on the four principles of ATD: committed leadership, use of evidence to improve programs and services, broad engagement and systemic institutional improvement.

They have also shown three years of sustained improvement of student success on at least one of several measures of performance, including course completion; advancement from remedial to credit-bearing courses; completion of college-level math and English courses; term-to-term and year-to-year retention; and completion of certificates or degrees.

Additionally, each Leader College has successfully implemented at least one student success intervention or initiative that is advancing student outcomes that are of sufficient scale to benefit a substantial proportion of students.

Thanks to the initiatives implemented at CCAC, the college has seen an eight percentage point overall increase in two-year completion rates for students taking remedial, or developmental, courses. The rate at which CCAC students complete required developmental education courses has improved from 27.3 percent of students who began in 2005 to 35.4 percent for those who began in 2009. The number of CCAC students who were referred to developmental courses and successfully completed their developmental coursework within two years has gone from 828 in 2005 to 1,260 in 2009.

This is the third year that ATD has recognized Leader Colleges, and six of the 23 honorees this year are Pennsylvania colleges. Additionally, Northampton Community College was recognized last year. In total, 52 out of 160 ATD member institutions are now Leader Colleges.

“Pennsylvania is rapidly becoming a ‘leader state’ among Achieving the Dream,” said Dr. Johnson. “It is a clear indication of the emphasis on educational attainment that makes our commonwealth’s community colleges such a valuable asset.”

CCAC was recognized for numerous initiatives that have produced measurable results in student achievement. The college introduced a student success course, which helps students understand what is expected in college coursework and provides information about college support services like tutoring. The course is required for certain incoming students, including those receiving Pittsburgh Promise scholarships and those who place into the lowest level of developmental courses.

“The student success course was my first class at college,” said Perry Perugini, who is attending CCAC through a scholarship with the Pittsburgh Promise. “Coming out of high school and going to the big leagues, it broke the ice. It definitely helped me with starting college.”

CCAC has also introduced early intervention procedures to help faculty members direct students at risk of failing toward support services. Policy changes have eliminated “D” as a passing grade in developmental courses and prohibited late registration.

In addition, CCAC launched a Math Enrichment program, a non-credit course that helps those students who place into the lowest level of developmental mathematics. With the intensive instruction of the new course, 83 percent of students in the fall of 2010 improved their performance on placement tests when re-testing. A summer refresher course is similarly intended to help students who test near the next-higher level of mathematics, enabling many to move directly into the highest level of developmental mathematics or into college-level courses.


About the Community College of Allegheny County (CCAC)
CCAC annually educates 33,000 credit students through 170 degree, certificate and transfer programs and offers non-credit and workforce development courses to 30,000 students. The learning-centered institution’s mission is to provide affordable access to quality education and offer a dynamic, diverse and supportive learning environment that prepares the region’s residents for academic, professional and personal success in our changing global society. CCAC’s quality programs enable students to transfer credits to 520 colleges and universities and support regional workforce needs with accessible instruction available day, evening, weekend and online in Allegheny County and beyond. Visit to learn more.

About Achieving the Dream
Achieving the Dream, Inc. 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, Achieving the Dream 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. Conceived as an initiative in 2004 by Lumina Foundation and seven founding partner organizations, today, Achieving the Dream is the largest non-governmental reform movement for student success in higher education history. With 160 institutions, more than 100 coaches and advisors, and 16 state policy teams - working throughout 30 states and the District of Columbia - Achieving the Dream helps 3.5 million community college students have a better chance of realizing greater economic opportunity and achieving their dreams. To learn more about Achieving the Dream, visit