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Student Achievement Measure (SAM)

APLU Impact

  • Reporting outcomes for the part-time and transfer students who are missed in the federal graduation rate, painting a more complete picture of student progress.
  • Increasing awareness about the need for more robust federal student data. 
  • Institutions interested in joining SAM to report more of their students’ success can learn more on the SAM site. 

Student Achievement Measure Logo

The Student Achievement Measure (SAM) is a way to report progress and graduation rates for all undergraduate students, including those transfer and attend part-time. Usual measures of student progress and completion, including the federal government’s graduation rate, only report on first-time college students who do not transfer. This fails to account for an increasingly mobile student population. As a result, nearly half of postsecondary students are not captured in the “first-time, full-time” criteria of the federal graduation rate. At some institutions, the first-time, full-time criteria measures the progress of less than 10 percent of all students.

SAM tracks student movement across postsecondary institutions to provide a more complete picture of undergraduate student progress and completion within the higher education system. This enables schools to report what happens to students who transferred to another school – whether they graduated elsewhere, are still enrolled and making progress toward a degree, or left school before completing a degree. There are two models included in SAM, one for students enrolled in bachelor’s degree programs and one for students enrolled in associate’s degree or certificate programs. SAM participants can also voluntarily report outcomes for Pell students, students who receive veterans’ benefits, and underrepresented minority populations.

Institutions interested in joining SAM can sign up on the SAM website. APLU leads the management of the SAM effort. SAM was created by the six presidential higher education organizations – APLU, the American Association of Community Colleges, the American Council on Education, the Association of American Universities, the American Association of State Colleges and Universities, and the National Association of Independent Colleges and Universities.

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Project Degree Completion

Featured Project & Initiative

The Data Literacy Institute – a partnership between APLU and the Association for Institutional Research with funding from Ascendium – brings together cross-departmental teams from 11 Powered by Publics institutions from Cluster 14 to engage in training that enhance their use of data to improve equitable student outcomes. In May 2022, Powered by Publics held […]

Featured Publication

2022 APLU Annual Report