Frequently Asked Questions

Frequently Asked Questions


Q: What is the difference between the Institutional Capacity Framework and Institutional Capacity Assessment Tool?

A: The Institutional Capacity Framework is ATD’s approach to institutional change. Launched in February 2016, the framework has at its core seven capacities essential for a student-focused culture that promote student success. Strength in the seven capacities positions a colleges to take on interventions at scale. The companion Institutional Capacity Assessment Tool is an online self-assessment instrument to help colleges gauge their capacity strengths and areas for improvement.


Q: How does the Institutional Capacity Assessment Tool prepare and support a college with major interventions and redesign efforts?

A: Strength in the seven capacity areas positions a college to successfully implement and scale interventions such as guided pathways, developmental education reform, integrated planning and advising systems, Accelerated Study in Associate Programs, and grants such as Title III.


Q: Why should my college take the Institutional Capacity Assessment Tool?

A: The benefits include:

  • insight into institutional strengths and areas for improvement;

  • a picture of what improvement looks like at the exemplary capacity level;

  • broad engagement of stakeholders from all areas of the college;

  • identification of areas where there is consensus of opinion and where there are perception gaps;

  • use of a common language to spark dialogue and engagement in capacity conversations; and

  • generation of ideas on how to build strength across the seven capacity area


Q: Do colleges still need to complete the Principles Assessment?

A: No, the Institutional Capacity Assessment Tool replaces both the Achieving the Dream Readiness Assessment and Principles Assessment.

Preparation and Administration

Q: When should the college complete the Institutional Capacity Assessment Tool?

A: Colleges are encouraged to complete the Institutional Capacity Assessment Tool on an annual basis. New colleges are encouraged to complete the assessment during the fall semester or early spring prior to their second coaching visit. Colleges in their 2nd year or later are encouraged to select an administration cycle that best serves the college’s planning cycle, college in-service days, and coaching visits. An annual fall administration may make sense for some colleges whereas a spring administration may make sense for others.


Q: Who should complete the Institutional Capacity Assessment Tool?

A: A broad range of stakeholders such as the Board of Trustees, president’s cabinet, administrators, faculty, staff, the ATD Core team and the ATD Data team who represent a wide range of functional areas including academic affairs, student services, administrative services, and continuing education.

Q: How many people should complete the Institutional Capacity Assessment Tool?

A: A minimum of ten individuals per capacity area should complete the assessment. Ideally, the respondents should represent the roles and functional areas described above.


Q: Does each person need to complete all seven sections of the assessment?

A: At the start of the assessment the participant has the option to select the capacity area(s) that align with their institutional knowledge and expertise. For the first administration of the assessment it is recommended that participants complete all seven areas. There is an “I don’t know” option for each question if the respondent has no basis to judge. At a minimum, the ATD Core Team and ATD Data Team should complete the entire assessment.


Q: How do I access the Institutional Capacity Assessment Tool?

A: The Institutional Capacity Assessment Tool is accessible from Coahoma Community College's website.


Q: How do I respond when I believe that my college falls between two levels?

A: Always choose the lower of the two levels.


Q: When do I select “I don’t know”?

A: Select “I don’t know” when you do not know, or have no basis to judge, the answer to a particular question.


Q: How long will the assessment take?

A: Approximately one hour if all seven capacities are selected.


Q. Can I leave the assessment and come back later to finish?

A: Yes. If you use the same browser and enable cookies, your response is automatically saved for seven days. When you click on the assessment link again, it will re-direct you to the page where you left off. After seven days, your partial response will be deleted. You can test this by starting the assessment, closing your browser, and re-opening the same browser. If your initial selections are still present, your browser is saving your history. If your responses are no longer available, you will need to change your browser settings to enable this feature. If you are unsure or cannot save your browser history, we recommend completing the assessment in one sitting.


Q: Who has access to respondents’ individual responses?

A: No one. All responses collected through the assessment tool are anonymous. ATD will have a database of the responses but no response is associated with a specific individual.


Q. Will a college be able to tell the number of respondents for each question, by role and by functional area and how many answered “I don’t know”?

A: Yes, a Response Distribution report will be made available on the college community on ATD Connect.


Q: How do I interpret the college’s results?

A: The assessment is not a scientific tool based on rigorous psychometrics principles and should not be used as one. The ratings are meant to provide a general indicator of institutional capacity. The ratings displayed in the Results Summary represent a convergence of opinion (i.e., where college stakeholders see their institutions' capacities), instead of a measurement of capacity based on objective input and outcome measures.


Q: Is it possible to review the capacity results of another college for comparison?

A: No, Achieving the Dream will not share the capacity results of other colleges.


Q: What support can colleges expect when reviewing results?

A: ATD Leadership and Data Coaches will support colleges in using the tool, developing action plans based on the results, and providing tailored assistance to bolster capacity where needed.


Q: What resources on the Institutional Capacity Framework and Assessment Tool are currently available to help colleges build capacity based on their results?

A: Colleges will have access to resources associated with each of the seven capacity areas through ATD Connect on the Network Community.


Q: I am having trouble logging in to ATD Connect. Who should I contact?

A: Email or and a staff member will assist you.


Q: Do I need internet to take the assessment?

A: Yes, the Institutional Capacity Assessment Tool requires a broadband internet connection and updated web browser.

Additional Questions

If you have additional questions, please contact your ATD Leadership at or