Data, analytics boost student success at community colleges

Achieving the Dream, SAS Data & Analytics Summit gathers leaders from 80-plus community colleges to discuss effective use of data

Community colleges are prized for helping meet the workforce demands of today and tomorrow. And around the country, they’re turning to data and analytics to improve student achievement. The inaugural Data and Analytics Summit, sponsored by Achieving the Dream and SAS, will convene nearly 200 representatives from more than 80 community colleges on Sept. 9-10 in Cary, NC, to deepen understanding of data as a strategic asset to improve student outcomes.

Analytics experts and community and technical college leaders will discuss how analytics helps colleges nationwide share, analyze and visualize data. Most importantly, they’ll discuss how results can improve student engagement and outcomes, analyze workforce data, and advance institutional research. All with the goal to put students on a path to rewarding careers.

Dr. Karen A. Stout, President and CEO of Achieving the Dream, and Jim Goodnight, CEO of analytics software provider SAS, headline the summit, joining leading data and analytics experts and practitioners.

"Achieving the Dream network colleges owe much of their success in strengthening student achievement to their use of data,” said Stout. “As analytics software becomes more sophisticated and easier to use, its potential to drive even more student success is skyrocketing."

In her keynote, Data Drives Destiny, Stout will describe how an analytical ecosystem can position colleges to compete and serve students most effectively into the future.

Goodnight emphasizes how analytics can help community colleges increase the talent pool in high-demand areas such as STEM (science, technology, engineering and math).

There are too few students entering the STEM fields,” said Goodnight. “That includes analytics and data science. Community colleges play a key role in filling these skills gaps by adapting to employer talent needs and offering relevant curriculum.”

The event brings together representatives from companies such as SAS, Burning Glass Technologies and Echo360 with expert practitioners from St. Petersburg College, Indian River State College, Durham Technical Community College, Wake Technical Community College, and other institutions.

Wake Tech offered the nation’s first associate’s degree in business analytics. The degree offers a pathway for women and underserved populations into STEM-related educational programs, and opens the door to some of today’s most in-demand and rewarding careers. Tanya Scott, Director of Business Analytics at Wake Tech, will profile the success of the program and how an analytics curriculum at the community college level can prepare the workforce of the future.

“There is tremendous innovation taking place at community colleges at a time when their role in the education ecosystem is particularly critical,” said Scott. “Learners of all ages are seeking valuable experience and education, at an affordable price, to build or enhance careers. Companies like SAS and their customers are clamoring for analytics talent, and Wake Tech is answering the call.”

About Achieving the Dream, Inc.

Achieving the Dream is a national nonprofit leading the nation's most comprehensive non-governmental reform network for student success in higher education history. The Achieving the Dream National Reform Network, including over 200 institutions, more than 100 coaches and advisors, and 15 state policy teams - working throughout 34 states and the District of Columbia - helps nearly 4 million community college students have a better chance of realizing greater economic opportunity and achieving their dreams.

Trent Smith/SAS


Lynn Reddy/Achieving the Dream


About SAS

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SAS is the leader in analytics. Through innovative analytics, business intelligence and data management software and services, SAS helps customers at more than 83,000 sites make better decisions faster. Since 1976, SAS has been giving customers around the world THE POWER TO KNOW®.