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What is Student Success?

Common assessment measures do not accurately represent today’s changing undergraduate population. Measuring success is a difficult task when combining all students into one category. Federal methodology, for instance, considers only first-year, full-time graduating with a bachelor's degree within six years or an associate's degree or certificate within three years. While attending traditional residential colleges typically belong to this category, it does not accurately depict college students as a whole. Students who transfer, take a substantial amount of time off, or even those attending part-time will not be deemed according to the methodology raises concern as most students do not continuously enroll in the same college full-time until they have completed their degree.

The Student Achievement Measure (SAM) looks to end this bias against non-first-time, full-time students. Using different time frames than the federal system and also looking at various student cohorts, the SAM reports on multiple measures of success rather than one universal success model. The most notable added measure that is transfer students, so students who attended community colleges, received their degree, and then transferred to a four-year university are no longer deemed unsuccessful. Six higher education institutions have introduced this new system of gauging success. The SAM looks to supplant the methodology and include a wider range of higher education students in future success models.