Why is SAM Important?

The Student Achievement Measure (SAM) is an improved way to report undergraduate student progress and completion by including a greater proportion of students as well as tracking students who enroll in multiple higher education institutions. Usual measures of student progress and completion, including government-led efforts, usually underreport student achievement because they do not account for an increasingly mobile student population.

Nationally, more than one in five students who complete a degree do so at an institution other than the one where they started, according to a recent study by the National Student Clearinghouse Research Center. Yet the typical method for calculating graduation rates, as stipulated by federal legislation, counts only those students who enroll full-time and then start and finish at their first college or university. SAM better accounts for the success of these students.

For institutions of higher education, the SAM offers an innovative reporting tool that provides a more comprehensive overview of student outcomes and includes a greater number of students. For policymakers and the public, SAM provides a more complete picture of student progress on the path to a degree or certificate.

What is SAM?

The Student Achievement Measure (SAM) tracks student movement across postsecondary institutions to provide a more complete picture of undergraduate student progress and completion within the higher education system. SAM is an alternative to the federal graduation rate, which is limited to tracking the completion of first-time, full-time students at one institution.

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. For more information on the two SAM models and the calculations, please see the Resources page.

Contact Information

For more information or questions regarding the Student Achievement Measure project contact the Executive Director, Christine Keller at ExecutiveDirector@studentachievementmeasure.org.