EVERETT — Everett Community College has been named one of the top two-year schools in the country by a nonprofit organization that develops education reform programs.
Achieving the Dream, based in Silver Spring, Maryland, is an organization of more than 200 community or technical colleges in 35 states, including 19 in Washington.
The organization sponsors programs at colleges to improve success rates, especially for low-income students.
Everett Community College won Leader College designation for a 6 percent increase since 2009 in two-year graduation rates and for student retention.
Everett is one of three leader colleges in Washington this year. The others are Pierce College in Tacoma and Lower Columbia College in Longview. Three other schools — Tacoma Community College, Renton Technical College and Highline Community College — were recertified this year after winning the award three years ago.
Heather Bennett, Everett Community College’s executive director of institutional effectiveness and resource development, said the designation will allow the school to apply for more grant money through Achieving the Dream to pay for more programs.
“It’s an acknowledgment of all the work that’s been going on across campus in the last three years, really focusing on student success and eliminating barriers to student success,” Bennett said.
Three years ago, the school started a mandatory advising program for all third-quarter students. This year, that program was expanded to include advising students when they first enroll.
In addition, a course to help students succeed in school — such as developing academic plans and course selection — is a mandatory class for all incoming students, Bennett said.
Future plans under Achieving the Dream include professional training for faculty and eliminating late registration, which often correlates with a higher rate of students dropping out or otherwise not succeeding, Bennett said.
Everett’s participation in Achieving the Dream is funded primarily through grant money from College Spark Washington, a nonprofit focusing on programs that help low-income students do well.