Examining leadership practices at achieving the dream leader colleges : a multiple case study
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Achieving the Dream (AtD) assumes that leadership is critical for student success. These Leader Colleges have been able to demonstrate innovation sustainability through specific practices leading to increased student outcomes, while others have not been able to sustain the same level of student success. Limited research exists which highlights specific leadership practices employed by Achieving the Dream colleges, particularly Leader Colleges, which are known for being successful in sustaining innovations. The purpose of this study was to ascertain leadership practices used to increase student success through sustained innovation at two Achieving the Dream Leader Colleges. This study may add to the knowledge base regarding Achieving the Dream colleges as well as sustainability practices leading to increased student success in community colleges. The research was guided by the following questions: What leadership practices were employed by the Chief Executive Officer, Board of Trustees, Leadership Team, and Faculty to sustain innovation that led to increased student success?; What was the perception of the AtD coach and data facilitator regarding the leadership practices that contributed to student success?; What obstacles to change were encountered by internal stakeholders during innovation sustainability? This qualitative study consisted of three components: interviews, focus group, and document reviews with purposeful sampling. The participants included Chief Executive Officers, Board of Trustees members, the Leadership Team, faculty, and Achieving the Dream coaches and data facilitators at two AtD Leader Colleges. Findings from the study indicated: (a) commitment and support must be priorities of the Chief Executive Officer and senior leaders of the institution; (b) using data to inform decisions illuminates achievement gaps; (c) communication between internal and external stakeholders is imperative to affect change; (d) the institutionalization of interventions is essential to sustain student success; and (e) leading with passion is a critical component of leadership.