What is Student Success?

Measuring success is a difficult task when combining all students into one category. Federal methodology, for instance, considers only first-year, full-time students graduating with a bachelor's degree within six years or an associate's degree or certificate within three years. While students 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 successful according to federal methodology. This 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 included is transfer students, so students who attended community colleges, received their Associates degree, and then transferred to a 4-year university are no longer deemed unsuccessful. Six higher education institutions are currently introducing this new system of gauging success and colleges are being invited to begin submitting data this fall 2015. The Student Achievement Measure looks to supplant the federal methodology and include a wider range of higher education students in future success models.