Higher Ed Associations Take New Approach to Tracking Student Success

To improve on the current system for tracking college and university student achievement, six higher education associations unveiled a new, more inclusive model.

As more states are allocating funds to colleges and universities based on performance-based metrics, six higher education associations are sponsoring a new tracking system to measure student progress.

A lot of students are missing from graduation rate reports, and SAM helps to finally correct that omission.

The Student Achievement Measure (SAM) will provide a system to measure student advancement and completion of their studies and will improve on the current federal tracking model by including a larger number of students and following students who enroll in multiple higher education institutions.

“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,” Hunter Rawlings, president of the Association of American Universities (AAU), said in a statement. “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.”

Currently, the federal tracking model measures only full-time students who enroll and finish at their first college or university. But more than one in five students transfers to a different institution, according to a study by the National Student Clearinghouse Research Center. SAM will help account for an increasingly mobile student population.

“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).

The six sponsoring associations, which represent public, private, four-year, and two-year institutions, are urging their members to participate in the new initiative. Those who do can begin posting data this fall.

The new tracking system, funded by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation and the Carnegie Corporation, is sponsored by AAU, APLU, the American Association of Community Colleges, the American Association of State Colleges and Universities, the American Council on Education, and the National Association of Independent Colleges and Universities.

(Wavebreak Media/Thinkstock)

Katie Bascuas

By Katie Bascuas

Katie Bascuas is associate editor of Associations Now. MORE

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