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Student Achievement Initiative

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The Student Achievement Initiative (SAI) is the performance funding system for Washington state's system of community and technical colleges.

Colleges receive points, with funding attached, when students reach key academic momentum points, such as finishing college-level math, completing the first year of college, and earning a certificate or degree. Rigorous data analysis shows that students who achieve these momentum points are much more likely to earn a certificate or degree.

SAI represents a shift from funding colleges based on the number of students they enroll to also funding meaningful outcomes.


Darby Kaikkonen
Policy Research Director

Purpose of the Student Achievement Initiative (SAI)

SAI improves public accountability by more accurately describing what students achieve from enrolling in our colleges each year. It also provides financial incentives to colleges for increasing student achievement.

Achievement Measures

The community and technical college system, in partnership with the Community College Research Center at Columbia University, identified key academic benchmarks that students must meet to successfully complete degrees and certificates. These achievement points are meaningful for all students across:

  • Demographic characteristics (race, age, income, employment status).
  • Academic program or entering skill levels (basic skills, remedial, workforce education, academic transfer).
  • Intensity of enrollment (part-time or full-time enrollment).
  • Type of institution attended (urban, rural, large, small, community college, technical college

The categories of achievement measures are:

  • Building towards college-level skills (basic skills gains, completing a precollege writing or math sequence).
  • First year retention (earning 15 then 30 college-level credits).
  • Second year retention and becoming workforce or transfer ready (45 college credits).
  • Completing college-level math (passing math courses required for either technical or academic associate degrees).
  • Completions (degrees, certificates, apprenticeship training).

Reports and Data Tools

The SAI serves as the guiding framework for tracking and analyzing student progress and success for many initiatives. Several reports and data tools were built to address key policy areas around student success and to enable colleges to benchmark themselves against the rest of the Washington state community and technical college system.

SAI points

This report contains quarterly and annual point totals for all colleges as well as share calculations in accordance with the funding metrics of total points less completions, completions, and points per student.

Student Achievement cohorts

The students who comprise student achievement cohorts are award-seeking, first-time in fall. This subset of students from the student achievement database was developed for the purpose of tracking intermediate outcomes for a new cohort to help colleges understand where achievement gaps exist and to evaluate progress of student success strategies. The metrics in the following datasets also contain demographic information so the outcomes can be disaggregated for analysis.

Measuring Up

The Measuring Up dataset was developed for the Washington State Trustees' Workshop on Student Achievement Outcomes on Oct. 2, 2013. The data was provided at both the college and system level to provide participants the opportunity to discuss student progress in the key policy areas of student transition to college from basic skills, pre-college to college math progression, and completions.

Student Achievement Initiative Momentum Pointsexpanded description below

Colleges earn achievement points, with funds attached, every time a student reaches a certain level of achievement. These levels of achievement are called momentum points because each achievement is likely to propel students to another achievement.

SAI momentum points work in succession. The steps are:

  • Momentum points start with basic skills students. Colleges earn points and funding when basic skills students make nationally recognized test gains in math, English language, or reading as measured by pre- and post-testing or by earning a high school diploma or equivalency certificate.
  • The next momentum point is completing the highest pre-college (remedial) math course or English course; and subsequently completing the college-level course.
  • The next momentum point is completing the first 15 college credits. The next momentum point is completing 30 college credits.
  • The next momentum point is achieving five college-level math credits in computation, math or logic.
  • The next momentum point is completing 45 college credits, which is one year.
  • The final momentum point is completing certificates, degrees and apprenticeships.

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Last Modified: 2/15/18 2:48 PM

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