Maryland-based nonprofit Achieving the Dream on Feb. 16 announced 19 colleges earned Leader College or Leader College of Distinction status, including San Antonio’s Alamo Colleges District, which recertified its Leader College of Distinction status.

Karen Stout, president and CEO of Achieving the Dream, said these colleges set a high standard of excellence not just within the ATD Network, but also across the higher education field.

“These institutions are undertaking the challenging, systemic work needed to produce transformative results for the students and communities they serve. We are delighted to recognize their achievements and proud to continue working as partners in their sustained efforts to serve their communities,” Stout said in a statement.

ATD created the Leader College of Distinction award in 2018 to recognize colleges that have pursued and met challenging student success goals, often earning Leader College status several times, a news release said.

Leader Colleges of Distinction must show improvement in three or more student outcome metrics, including at least one lagging indicator, such as rates for completion or transfer with an earned baccalaureate, the release said.

Leader Colleges of Distinction are also required to show they have reduced equity gaps in at least two metrics for at least two student groups, the release said.

These requirements recognize and motivate sustained and proactive reform efforts that result in greater improvements in student success and equity.

Sixteen community colleges from the ATD Network have earned Leader College status, having shown steady improvement in outcomes in student success, the release said.

Leader Colleges play an important role in accelerating the adoption of effective practices within the ATD Network and across higher education, according to the release.

ATD recognizes Leader Colleges for the quality of their work in whole-college reform, resulting in increased completion rates.

Leader Colleges develop innovative ways to work with other colleges to share knowledge and facilitate an exchange of ideas about evidence-based reform strategies, the release said.