Achieving the Dream identifies an initial, general cohort and key performance indicators for institutions to examine to improve success and completions rates campus-wide, and then individual institutions narrow those to address the specific issues at that college. In the summer of 2014 the Data Team began examining data from the previous three years connected to the cohort and performance indictors specified by Achieving the Dream.

Annual Reflection

Key Performance Indicators

There are five Achieving the Dream Indicators to identify areas for improvement and assess initiatives formulated to make improvements:

  • Developmental Course Completion
  • Gateway Course Completion
  • Overall Course Completion
  • Student Retention/Persistence
  • Completion of a Degree or Certificate


The initial, general cohort used for Achieiving the Dream is matriculated students that are new to MVCC (first-time and transfer students). Data Team spent a great deal of time looking at different sub-cohorts of the initial cohort, including:

  • First-time
  • Transfer
  • Full-time and part-time
  • Male and Female
  • Race/Ethnicity
  • Age group
  • County-Oneida, Herkimer/Madison, and Other
  • Upstate and downstate
  • Dorm and Off-campus
  • Low income (PELL recipients as proxy)

Minority Students

While several minority populations performed below institutional averages, the group that shows the most pronounced gaps is Black and Hispanic students, with male students within this cohort showing the most significant gaps.

Students Aged 20-29

The group with the second-most significant gaps in all areas is students 20-29. The challenge in addressing this group is likely that there is no one, easily identified cause. In fact, the Data Team postulates an extensive variety of causes, some of which may affect one portion of the cohort (20-24, for example, may primarily be dealing with poor work habits and lack of preparation while others may be more relevant to the older part of the demographic (child-care issues, work/school conflicts, etc.).

Low-Income Students

The low-income group actually demonstrates a smaller gap than the previous two cohorts (we used Pell recipients to define data for this group). While this is the cohort with the smallest gap, it is the cohort with the largest population and, thus, improvements within this cohort have the potential to affect the institution’s overall success rates the most.

The problems noted above regarding the 20-29 cohort are magnified here. There is so little commonality between members of this cohort, other than qualifying for Pell.

Performance Indicators

Developmental Course Completion

Successful completion course completion is defined as a final grade of C or better. Data Team looked at data comparing success rates for students that placed in the following developmental courses:

  • EN099 Introduction to College English and EN090 Basic Writing Skills (beginning in Fall-2013)
  • MA045 Basic Math Skills and MA050 Introductory Math for Fall-2011 through Fall-2013, and MA089 Arithmetic, MA090 Essential Math Skills, and MA091 Introductory Algebra beginning with Fall-2014
  • DS051 Essential Reading and Study Skills and DS090 Academic Reading

The chart below illustrates the gap between success rates for Developmental English-EN099 for students receiving PELL grants and students with no PELL award.

EN099 Success rates for PELL recipients

For the three years examined, the difference between success rates ranged from 8.2 percent for Fall-2011 to 11.3 percent for Fall-2013. Click here for more recent information…

Gateway Course Completion

For the purposes of ATD, Gateway Courses are first college-level courses with large enrollment and poor success rates.  The Data Team identified twelve such courses: AC115 Financial Accounting; CJ101 Introduction to Criminal Justice; IS101 Computers and Society; SO101 Introduction to Sociology; HI101 History of Civilization 1; EN101 English 1: Composition; BI141 General Biology 1; HS101 Introduction to Human Services; PY101 Introduction to General Psychology; MA108 Concepts of Mathematics; MA110 Elementary Statistics; MA115 Intermediate Mathematics.

In addition, the Pathway to Graduation Project has included six courses as Gateway (which ATD would consider Developmental).  These courses are:
DS051 Essential Reading & Study Skills; DS090 Academic Reading; EN099 Introduction to College English; MA089 Arithmetic; MA090 Essential Math Skills; EN091 Introductory Algebra.



The chart above illustrates successful completion of PY101 for students awarded PELL and students with no PELL award. Low-income students are less likely to achieve a grade of C or better. Click here for more recent information…

Overall Course Completion

Overall Course Completion measures the proportion of total credits attempted in which the student earned a grade of C or better. Success for students aged 20-29 years old ranges from 61.2 percent for Fall-2011 to 65.6 percent in Fall-2012 and back down to 63.6 percent for Fall-2013.

Overall Success for 20-29 Year Olds

Contrast that with the upward trend for students of all other ages, which has risen from 65.9 percent for Fall-2011 to 70.1 percent for Fall-2013. Click here for more recent information…

Student Retention/Persistence

Four time Indianapolis 500 winner Rick Mears once said “To finish first, you must first finish.” For students to succeed and ultimately complete a degree or certificate they must stay in college, persisting to graduation.

Fall-to-Fall Persistence for Black and Hispanic Students

Fall-to-fall persistence for Black and Hispanic students, as seen in the chart above, lags behind non Black/Hispanic students by as much as 20 percent (Fall-2011). Click here for more recent information…


The three-year completion rate for all students entering in the fall as matriculated, 1st-time/transfer students over the three-year period from Fall-2010 through Fall-2012 was 24.2 percent. Black and Hispanic students succeeded at a much lower rate, as seen in the chart below.

Completion Rates for Black and Hispanic Students

Click here for more recent information…