COLLEGE PARK, Md. – The University of Maryland recently signed up to participate in the Student Achievement Measure (SAM)—a web-based graduation rate tracking initiative that launched last year. In addition to tracking full-time students who start and finish at their first institutions, SAM can also track the progress and completion of transfer students, part-time students, and the outcomes of students who enroll in multiple institutions.
“The Student Achievement Measure is a powerful tool that enables the University of Maryland to measure the graduation rates of hundreds of our students who may start or finish at other institutions,” says Steve Fetter, UMD's associate provost for academic affairs. “It’s our responsibility to provide students and the public with clear, accurate information about the progress and success of our student body. We’re proud to be at the forefront of this national effort.”
SAM has two reporting models – one for students enrolled in bachelor’s degree programs and one for students enrolled in associate degree programs or certificate programs. More than 435 colleges and universities from all 50 states have already signed up to participate in SAM. The SAM website is currently tracking the progress and completion of a half million more students across these participating institutions than other graduation rate tracking methodologies.
“SAM is finally allowing universities to track and make public a much more complete picture of student progress and graduation rates than ever before,” said SAM Executive Director Christine Keller. “So many students who don’t fit the old, traditional model of starting and finishing their coursework at the same institution over two or four years are being lost in the current federal graduation rate. That growing subgroup of students can now be tracked with SAM, which further strengthens the transparency efforts of the University of Maryland and other institutions across the country who are participating in this innovative effort.”
Nationally, more than one in five students who complete a degree do so at an institution other than the one where they first enrolled, according to a study by the National Student Clearinghouse Research Center. At UMD, the current six-year graduation rate for first-time, full-time freshman is 84 percent. Now, for the first time, the remaining 16 percent of this population can be further accounted for using SAM. Of that 16 percent, close to 11 percent are traceable using SAM data, accounting for students who enrolled and/or graduated at another institution.
SAM is a collaborative effort of the six national presidential higher education associations and has been endorsed by nine prominent national higher education organizations. Funding for SAM is provided in large part by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundations with additional support from the Carnegie Corporation, the Association of Public and Land-grant Universities, and the American Association of State Colleges and Universities.