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Student Achievement Measure Statement on National Clearinghouse Research Center Findings on Scope of Transfer Students

Student Achievement Measure (SAM) Executive Director Christine Keller today released the following statement in response to a National Student Clearinghouse Research Center report that says 3.6 million college students who entered college at the bottom of the recession transferred schools at least once.

“The National Student Clearinghouse Research Center’s most recent Signature Report shows that more than one-third of students who enrolled in Fall 2008 transferred institutions on their path toward earning a college degree. The progress and outcomes of these students are missing from the federal graduation rate calculations, and are often considered ‘failures’ for the institution.

“The Student Achievement Measure (SAM) offers a comprehensive metric that better reflects student progress and graduation rates at post-secondary institutions by including outcomes for transfer and part-time students. The measure also gives incoming students the data they need when considering which institutions to apply to and enroll at.

“As the Obama administration prepares to release a new data tool to increase transparency in higher education, the National Clearinghouse Research Center’s findings serve as a reminder that current federal graduation rates fail to fully capture student achievement and institutional performance. With nearly 20 percent of students starting at two-year institutions and a quarter of students starting at four-year public institutions transferring across state lines, even state longitudinal data systems are too limited to accurately report student attainment. The federal government has an obligation to provide students and taxpayers with the most holistic and accurate data. To meet this obligation, the U.S. Department of Education must allow opportunities for institutions to utilize measures like SAM so they can provide the best available information on college completion. Students deserve nothing less.”

SAM includes 565 participating institutions and is a collaborative effort of the six national presidential higher education associations — the American Association of Community Colleges (AACC), the American Association of State Colleges and Universities (AASCU), the Association of American Universities (AAU), the American Council of Education (ACE), the Association of Public and Land-grant Universities (APLU), and the National Association of Independent Colleges and Universities (NAICU).

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