We believe in effective implementation.
We will develop and act on clear, concise, highly-structured, evidence-based and goal-oriented implementation plans designed to achieve dramatic improvements in student success. The measurable goals and the plans to achieve them must be equally owned by administrators and faculty with a clear understanding of their responsibilities for generating results. We expect action at scale and with urgency, ensuring all students are provided the opportunity to benefit from reform efforts. We will deploy best practices where they exist and work to discover new solutions where they do not.
Focus on systemic change
Systemic problems and pervasive challenges to college completion at the state, system, and institutional level are revealed through a careful examination of the data. These problems require targeted, large-scale reforms that are rooted in a sound understanding of the causes of the problem and the solutions that are most effective for addressing them. Familiarity with the research and the most effective practices in the field are critical to implementing a scalable reform strategy. Complete College Alliance Teams must communicate the nature of the systemic problems and the strategies that can solve them to the stakeholders who must be involved in the solution – including faculty, administrators, system and state leaders.
The Standard is met when a Complete College Alliance Team drafts a problem statement and proposed set of strategies for key state-level stakeholders.
Remain steadfast in resolving the most critical issues
Systemic change must be evaluated through the lens of Time, Choice, and Structure. Strategies worth pursuing must reduce time and credits to degree. They must help students develop a sense of purpose by providing them the critical information they need to choose a program of study. Strategies must build student momentum in the first year by increasing the likelihood students will complete gateway courses, earn 30 credits and take at least nine credits in their program path. Increases in on-time completion should be achieved through a smooth and accelerated pathway that both nudges students in the right direction and proactively advises them when they veer off course.
The Standard is met when the Complete College Alliance Team has verified that its proposed set of strategies meet the test of Time, Choice, and Structure and has evidence to support that.
Develop a memorandum of understanding for institutions
The Complete College Alliance Team must facilitate the implementation of its priority strategies and set a timeline for achieving scale. The Complete College Alliance Team should draft a memorandum of understanding for institutional leaders, faculty and staff with a clear charge: to commit to implementing and scaling recommendations on an agreed upon timeline. The MOU should be developed with each stakeholder in mind, clarifying the work to be done and their role in its completion.
The Standard is met when the State Alliance team drafts a memorandum of understanding (MOU) that outlines the strategy to be deployed, the date implementation will begin, the performance metrics to be measured, the level of scale to be achieved and the date by which the reform will reach scale.
Confirm broad commitment
The Complete College Alliance team must build institutional and stakeholder buy-in from the start. Ongoing engagement with various stakeholders throughout the strategy development process will lay a sound foundation of support. Leaders must be intentional about aligning the strategy with other relevant completion strategies and should recognize that some strategies might need to be set aside in favor of this Alliance Team initiatives. When the time is right and you know which institutions are ready to move forward, hold a day-long challenge event to launch the initiative and invite committed institutions to sign the MOU. The MOU should be signed by a representative from the key stakeholders that are critical to the success of the strategy, to include faculty, administrators and other institutional leaders.
The Standard is met when institutions committed to implementing a reform at scale sign the memorandum of understanding (MOU)
Gear Plans to Achieve Results
The Complete College Alliance Team must convene Campus Implementation Teams to develop plans for scaling the strategy that include clear timelines and verifiable action steps. All members of the Campus Implementation Team should set and then commit to ambitious targets on the number of students to be served and the results they expect to achieve. The institutional targets should align with goals established by the overall Alliance initiative. Each campus should be clear about how they are contributing to a scaled solution. Campus Implementation Teams should rely on the expertise of national experts who have successfully implemented the reforms. Institutional plans must be submitted to the Complete College Alliance Team, which will monitor progress.
The Standard is met when all institutions submit action plans with clear targets on the number and percent of students to be served, results that will be achieved and the actions to be taken to the Complete College Alliance Team for approval.
Don’t reinvent; customize
Campus Implementation Teams should identify the proven evidence-based models to replicate. The institutions should customize the model to their institution’s context, circumstances and resources. If there is uncertainty about which specific model to replicate, build prototypes to test which model is best for your institution’s students. It is critical that institutions make use of curricula, syllabi, advising protocols, policies and practices that have been tested and proven effective by early adopters. Campus Implementation Teams should curate resources and adapt them to their needs. Efforts to innovate should be done with a full understanding of the systemic nature of the problem, what has been learned from successful reforms and what problems have yet to be solved to maximize impact on student outcomes.
The Standard is met when the Campus Implementation Team identifies the implementation design that is most appropriate for their institutional context and accesses the external resources available to effectively replicate the reform.
Don’t pilot; commit
Pilots are for unproven strategies. They imply a future decision point to pursue or abandon the intervention. Evidence-based strategies, by contrast, must be pursued with a full commitment to scale from the beginning, understanding that the path may include phasing in, testing, and making adjustments to refine implementation. Parallel models are complicated and inequitable, and the Campus Implementation Teams must seek to limit their duration – or ideally – eliminate them altogether.
The Standard is met when the strategy is implemented on time and at scale.
Ensure early momentum
It is critical that plans not only build and sustain momentum for students, but also for those implementing the reforms. Designing key benchmarks that result in early wins is key. There is no greater motivator than seeing the impact of reforms on students. Identify a data collection strategy to determine if efforts are effective both in terms of the student performance and their experience. Focus on outcomes that can be measured immediately, such as changes in enrollment patterns and completion of gateway courses. Quickly review the data and disseminate it to all involved to highlight positive results that confirm that hard work is paying off. Celebrating accomplishments will help build the will to take on the next challenge.
The Standard is met when early results are measured, shared and celebrated.
Measure, monitor, and mend
Just as important as measuring the positive impact of efforts is to use that same data to make the necessary adjustments to achieve maximum impact. The Campus Implementation Teams must quickly analyze the quantitative and qualitative outcome data to identify challenges and get to work on resolving them. Focus on whether the strategy has successfully closed equity gaps. (See Equity and Data Scaling Standards for more.)
The Standard is met when those involved in the reform develop and implement a short- and long-term plan for improving the strategy, including specific steps to ensure equity.
Sustain scale through organizational reforms and policy
Campus Implementation Teams should use data from their implementation efforts to show the impact on revenue, operational efficiency, and student outcomes and advocate for the necessary organizational reforms and budgetary adjustments to sustain reforms. Campus Implementation Teams, in coordination with the Complete College Alliance Team, should identify a policy agenda that amends outdated laws and policies and sustains the reforms for the future. (See Policy Scaling Standards for more.)
The Standard is met when institutions have achieved scale and maintained scale for at least three academic years.
For Complete College Alliance Team and Campus Implementation Teams that commit to these scaling standards, Complete College America commits the following resources in return:
- Planning opportunities with the Complete College Alliance Team to identify the strategies to implement and the key steps for implementing them
- Standard Memoranda of Understanding for institutions to sign, signaling their commitment to clear outcomes
- Planning session with Complete College America staff and the Complete College Alliance Team to lead the implementation effort of a specific strategy or strategies and ensure fidelity to all Scaling Standards
- Agenda planning, written resources, and content experts for an initial convening to roll out the reform effort and to gain institutional commitments
- Agenda planning, templates, content experts, and facilitation for a convening of Campus Implementation Teams to develop concrete implementation plans
- Ongoing connection with national content experts and on-demand support from Complete College America staff for troubleshooting during the implementation process
- Comprehensive collection of written resources, artifacts, and implementation guides to support campus-level work