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SAM Provides Powerful Alternative to Federal Graduation Rate

See the Institutions Who Are Early Adopters

December 3, 2013—The Student Achievement Measure (SAM)—new web-based initiative that provides a much fuller picture of student progress and completion than the insufficient and misleading federal graduation rate—is powerful way to demonstrate your institution’s commitment to greater public transparency. Many APLU institutions have already registered for SAM and APLU urges all others to sign up now.

Unlike the federal graduation rate that only counts full-time students who start and finish at their first institutions, SAM includes the outcomes of students who attend multiple institutions, as well as those who transfer-in and transfer-out. SAM also includes those students still enrolled and working toward a credential. We invite your institution to join the more than 240 colleges and universities already registered to participate in SAM.

Signing up for SAM is simple, takes only a few minutes using this online formhttp://www.studentachievementmeasure.org/sign_up, and comes at no cost. After signing up, the SAM team will work with your staff to utilize your data from the National Student Clearinghouse to post on the SAM site.

There was a great deal of discussion about SAM at the 2013 APLU Annual Meeting in Washington, DC a few weeks ago. Attendees heard about the benefits of SAM and how it provides a more comprehensive picture of student progress and completion. SAM is a project of the six higher educational presidential associations and has the support from public, private, 2-year, and 4-year institutions.

Nationally, more than one in five students who complete a degree does so at an institution other than the one where they started. During last month’s U.S. Department of Education listening session at George Mason University, it was clear that the limitations of the federal graduation rate are a concern across the higher education and policy communities. The most striking example was given by a representative from the University of Maryland University College, who reported that only 187 of the institution’s more than 23,000 students are included in the current federal calculation. SAM was presented as a much better and more comprehensive measure than the federal graduation rate.

SAM will be a very powerful option to be cited by the media, government officials, and other stakeholders when the full higher education community posts its data to the site. Signing up for SAM is an easy way for your university to publicly demonstrate its commitment to greater accountability, transparency, and accuracy. Please feel free to reach out to either of us or Christine Keller (ckeller@aplu.org), who is Executive Director of SAM, if you have any questions.


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