Washington, DC – In a
groundbreaking effort to enhance transparency and provide the public with a
more comprehensive measure of college student progress and completion than ever
before, six leading national higher education associations today unveiled a
joint project called the Student Achievement
Measure, or SAM. The SAM metric will allow colleges and universities
to deliver a more complete picture of student progress along the path to
earning a college degree or certificate. The SAM project is an unprecedented collaboration that provides
a common tool for different types of nonprofit institutions - public and
private, colleges, universities, and community colleges.
The SAM Project is a joint initiative of six
national higher education presidential associations: the American Association
of Community Colleges (AACC), the American Association of State Colleges and
Universities (AASCU), the American Council on Education (ACE), the Association
of American Universities (AAU), the Association of Public and Land-grant
Universities (APLU), and the National Association of Independent Colleges and
Universities (NAICU). The
six partner associations include 3,000 postsecondary institutions and annually
enroll nearly 24 million undergraduate students.
Why is SAM important?
SAM offers an improved way to report student
progress and completion by including a larger number of students and by tracking
the outcomes of students who enroll in multiple higher education institutions.
measures of student graduation, including government-led efforts, often
underreport student achievement because they do not account for an increasingly
mobile student population.
“Many of the students who attend AASCU
colleges and universities are unable because of their life circumstances to complete
college in four years, the measure currently used by the Department of
Education,” said Muriel A. Howard, president of the American Association of
State Colleges and Universities (AASCU). “The information provided by the SAM
will acknowledge many more student-completions than were previously counted. We
believe AASCU’s presidents and chancellors who participate in the SAM will find
this a useful tool to use in their discussions with lawmakers about their
degree completion efforts and to demonstrate accountability for the use of
public funds. We expect that a large proportion AASCU schools will want to
participate” she said.
Funding for the SAM Project is provided in
large part by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation. “The foundation is
pleased to support colleges and universities in responding to the call for
better student outcome and institutional performance measures. We are very
encouraged to see the major associations converge on shared measures that
recognize that students take different pathways through higher education. This
is important information for institutional leaders in understanding whether
their students continue on a path to success even after leaving their
institution,” said Daniel Greenstein, Director of the Postsecondary Success Program
at the foundation.
Launch of SAM Website
With today’s launch of the SAM website, www.studentachievementmeasure.org, the project begins the college and university sign-up phase. Each participating college or university
will begin to post its own student achievement measures on the website in Fall 2013 after data from the 2012-2013 school year become available. New institutions and new data will
continue to be added throughout 2014 – particularly for the community college
sector. Website visitors will be
able to search for participating institutions by name, state,
or type of school. The higher
education associations are urging all of their colleges and universities to
become a part of this landmark initiative.
“The Student Achievement Measure provides a
more detailed way for schools to demonstrate success in progress and completion
for a greater universe of students, including those who transfer between
institutions,” said Hunter Rawlings, president of the Association of American
Universities. “It also provides policymakers and the public with a more
comprehensive picture than they have had in the past for making decisions
relating to higher education. This initiative is timely and important,
and I encourage institutions to participate.”
more than one in five students who complete a degree do so at an institution
other than the one where they started, and 15 percent of students had
previously attended college in at least one other state, according to a recent
study by the National Student Clearinghouse Research Center.
typical method for calculating graduation rates, as stipulated by federal
legislation, counts only those students who enroll full-time and then start and
finish at their first college or university. A lot of students are missing from graduation rate reports
and SAM helps to finally correct that omission,” said M. Peter McPherson,
president of the Association of Public and Land-grant Universities (APLU). “We urge all colleges and universities
to take advantage of the SAM metric to better account for the success of their
students. There is enormous
support for this project by APLU institutions.”
“Providing realistic data
on student outcomes is vitally important to community colleges and other
sectors of higher education,” said Walter G. Bumphus, president and CEO of the
American Association of Community Colleges. “Our association values the
opportunity for cross-sector collaboration and utilization of the measures
developed through our Voluntary Framework of Accountability to help achieve
The National Student Clearinghouse is an important source of
data and contributor to the SAM Project.
"Over the past couple of years the National Student Clearinghouse
Research Center sought, through its release of signature and snapshot reports,
to raise awareness and inform the conversations around evolving student
educational pathways and the fact that accounting for part-time students and
transfers are integral to any conversation concerning attainment. We are
pleased to be able to inform this effort which is leveraging our 95% nationwide
coverage of degree seeking students." said Ricardo D. Torres, President
and CEO of the National Student Clearinghouse.
Additional funding for the SAM project is
provided by the Carnegie Corporation of New York, the Association of Public and
Land-grant Universities, and the American Association of State Colleges and
on sponsoring associations:
The American Association of State Colleges and Universities
(AASCU) is a higher education association of more than 400 public
colleges, universities, and systems whose members share a learning- and
teaching-centered culture, a historic commitment to underserved student
populations, and a dedication to research and creativity that advances their
regions’ economic progress and cultural development.
American Association of Community Colleges (AACC)
represents nearly 1,200 two-year, associate degree-granting institutions and
more than 13 million students. AACC supports and promotes its member colleges
through policy initiatives, innovative programs, research and information, and
strategic outreach to business, industry and the national news media.
Association of American Universities (AAU) is a nonprofit
association of 60 U.S. and two Canadian preeminent public and private research
universities. Founded in 1900, AAU
focuses on national and institutional issues that are important to
research-intensive universities, including funding for research, research and
education policy, and graduate and undergraduate education.
American Council on Education (ACE) is
the major coordinating body for all the nation's higher education institutions,
representing more than 1,600 college and university presidents, and more than
200 related associations, nationwide. Founded in 1918, ACE provides leadership
on key higher education issues and influences public policy through advocacy.
of Public and Land-grant Universities (APLU) is a research
and advocacy organization of public research universities, land-grant
institutions, and state university systems. Founded in 1887, APLU is the
nation's oldest higher education association with 218 member institutions
enrolling over 5 million students and awarding nearly 1 million degrees.
National Association of Independent Colleges and Universities (NAICU) serves
as the unified voice of the nation's private, nonprofit colleges and
universities. NAICU represents more than 1000 members and is committed to
celebrating and protecting the diversity of the nation's private, nonprofit
colleges and universities.