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APLU Statement on U.S. Department of Education’s Announcement that Student Achievement Measure Data Will Soon be Linked to on New College Scorecard

Washington, DC – Association of Public and Land-grant Universities President Peter McPherson today released the following statement regarding the U.S. Department of Education’s announcement that Student Achievement Measure (SAM) data will be included on the agency’s College Scorecard as soon as practicable.

“In order for any student information tool to be effective, the data behind it must be as complete and reliable as possible so that students and their families can make well-informed decisions.

“We are very pleased that the Department has publicly stated it will help address the significant shortcomings of the federal graduation rate by allowing a link on its College Scorecard to the much more complete data from the Student Achievement Measure (SAM) as soon as practicable. SAM is a voluntary, alternative reporting metric that allows institutions to report much more complete progress and graduation outcomes.

“The federal graduation rate is incomplete and misleading as it fails to count the success of transfer and part-time students and those who attend more than one institution. SAM counts those students. Fifty-five percent of bachelor’s degree recipients attend more than one institution before they graduate. None of those graduates are counted in federal graduation figures, which underscores the need for SAM. Even President Obama, who transferred schools during his time as an undergraduate, wouldn’t be counted on the current federal graduation rate for his institutions.

“The Department has long recognized the limitations of the federal graduation data. Last month, 210 college and university leaders representing over 360 institutions urged Secretary Duncan to include the option for an institution to provide a direct link to an institution’s SAM data on the new College Scorecard. Those university leaders will undoubtedly appreciate the Department’s announced commitment to link to the SAM data as soon as practicable.

“With 575 post-secondary institutions already participating, SAM is tracking the progress and completion of over 570,000 students that are not included in the federal government’s measure. The SAM data soon linked from the Scorecard will help enable students and their families to make much more informed decisions. We thank the Department for this important step forward.”

“We need to carefully study the other metrics included in the Department of Education’s new College Scorecard before providing additional comments. We do, however, appreciate the Department’s efforts to provide accurate and important data to students.”

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