Thank you for your interest in the Student Achievement Measure! The information on this page is designed to answer questions from colleges and universities interested in participating in the SAM Project.

SAM Project Information

SAM Frequently Asked Questions

Find answers to questions about the SAM models, data sources, and reporting processes; participation requirements; and SAM funding.

SAM Participation Agreement

Download a copy of the SAM participation agreement, which details the terms and conditions required for institutions to participate in the SAM project. SAM participation is voluntary and free.

SAM Presentations & Handouts

Download a copy of a sample SAM presentation PowerPoint slidedeck. Each presentation is customized for the audience, but this slidedeck contains the key messaging and examples commonly included.

Handouts frequently distributed at conferences and meetings include:

SAM Model Resources

National Student Clearinghouse StudentTracker

The SAM bachelor’s degree and stacked credentials models are built by matching student data submitted by a participating institution with data from the National Student Clearinghouse (NSC). Visit the NSC website to learn more about the Cohort Query within the NSC StudentTracker tool that combines and aggregates the data into the outcomes categories used by SAM. A results file is returned by NSC to the institution and can be uploaded directly into the SAM site to create the chart and detail table. No student level data is uploaded to the SAM site.

Institutions can reduce their fees to participate in StudentTracker by participating in the free DegreeVerify and EnrollmentVerify services, and agreeing to provide additional data elements with their DegreeVerify and EnrollmentVerify submissions. Participating in these free services also enhances the student detail information returned in StudentTracker files; while this enhanced information is not used for SAM, it has institutional value in helping determine what degrees students who transfer to other institutions receive. Information on the fees to participate in StudentTracker is available here.

Outcomes for Subcohorts of Students

Starting Fall 2016, SAM participants may voluntarily report outcomes for Pell students, students who receive veterans’ benefits, and students of color using any SAM model. Students included in each of these groups are defined as follows:

Pell students: Students who received a Pell Grant in their first term of enrollment at the institution.

Students who receive veterans’ benefits: Students who reported to the institution that they received veterans’ benefits at any point during their enrollment at the institution.

Students of color: Students who identify all or in part with a race and/or ethnicity that is non-white. Students who are international or for whom race/ethnicity is unknown should not be included in the cohort.

Associate Degree- and Certificate-seeking Model

SAM Associate and Certificate Model Methodology

This document outlines the methodology used to calculate the SAM associate degree and certificate seeking metric. Although similar, the SAM associate degree and certificate model results will not match the federal methodology for calculating graduation and retention rates (e.g. IPEDS) nor are they intended to match. Key differences are outlined in this document.

SAM Associate and Certificate Model Demonstration

Data uploads and reporting for SAM will begin in October of 2013 with Fall 2007 student cohorts. Use this Excel file and data from earlier student cohorts for a preview of the SAM graphs and tables for your institution.

Linkages between SAM and the VFA

Starting in Fall 2016, the Voluntary System of Accountability has put data collection from institutions on temporary hiatus. For additional information on the new VSA Vision, please see the College Portrait website.

VFA to SAM Mapping Explanation

This document shows how the data from the VFA Student Progress and Outcomes Measure are aggregated for reporting on SAM. Planning is underway to determine how data can be shared across SAM and the VFA.

Bachelor's Degree-seeking Model

SAM Bachelor's Degree-seeking Model Methodology

This document outlines the methodology used to calculate the SAM bachelor’s degree-seeking metric. although very similar, the SAM bachelor’s degree model results will not match the federal methodology for calculating graduation and retention rates (e.g. IPEDS) nor are they intended to match. Key differences are outlined in this document.

SAM Bachelor's Degree-seeking Model Demonstration

Use this Excel file and data from any National Student Clearinghouse Cohort Report for a preview of the SAM graphs and tables for your institution.

Linkages between SAM and the VSA

The SAM bachelor’s model uses the same methodology and data as the success and progress rate reported on the College Portrait within the Voluntary System of Accountability (VSA). Starting in Fall 2013, VSA members who also participate in SAM can sync their SAM data directly to their Undergraduate Success & Progress Rate data in the College Portrait.

Stacked Credentials Model

SAM Stacked Credentials Model Methodology

This document outlines the methodology used to calculate the SAM stacked credentials metric. The SAM stacked credentials metrics shifts the point of view in reporting away from the institution to instead focus on the highest credential students in a group of students who started at the same time earn within 6 years. There is no current federal metric that reports these outcomes.

SAM Stacked Model Demonstration

Use this Excel file and data from any National Student Clearinghouse Cohort Report for a preview of the SAM graphs and tables for your institution.