Skip Navigation
X
X

Outcome Measures (OM) Glossary

Adjusted cohort
The result of removing any allowable exclusions from a cohort (or subcohort). For the Fall Enrollment component, it is the cohort for calculating retention rate; for the Graduation Rates component, this is the cohort from which graduation and transfer-out rates are calculated; and for the Outcome Measures component, these are the four cohorts (first-time, full-time; first-time, part-time; non-first-time, full-time; or non-first-time, part-time) for which outcomes rates are calculated at 4, 6, and 8 years.
Associate's degree
An award that normally requires at least 2 but less than 4 years of full-time equivalent college work.
Bachelor's degree
An award (baccalaureate or equivalent degree, as determined by the Secretary, U.S. Department of Education) that normally requires at least 4 but not more than 5 years of full-time equivalent college-level work. This includes all bachelor's degrees conferred in a 5-year cooperative (work-study) program. A cooperative plan provides for alternate class attendance and employment in business, industry, or government; thus, it allows students to combine actual work experience with their college studies. Also includes bachelor's degrees in which the normal 4 years of work are completed in 3 years.
Calculated value (CV)
Calculated value (CV) is used to designate fields that are generated (or calculated) based on data provided on other lines within the same part of a survey component. For example, a "balance" line or "other (detail)" line will be calculated as the difference between the total line and the sum of the remaining detail.
Certificate
A formal award certifying the satisfactory completion of a postsecondary education program.
Cohort
A specific group of students established for tracking purposes.
Degree
An award conferred by a college, university, or other postsecondary education institution as official recognition for the successful completion of a program of studies.
Degree/certificate-seeking students
Students enrolled in courses for credit who are seeking a degree, certificate, or other formal award. This includes students who:
   - received any type of federal financial aid, regardless of what courses they took at any time;
   - received any state or locally based financial aid with an eligibility requirement that the student be enrolled in a degree, certificate, or transfer-seeking program; or
   - obtained a student visa to study at a U.S. postsecondary institution

High school students also enrolled in postsecondary courses for credit are not considered degree/certificate-seeking.
Exclusions
Those students who may be removed (deleted) from a cohort (or subcohort). For the Graduation Rates, Outcome Measures, and Fall Enrollment retention rate reporting, students may be removed from a cohort if they left the institution for one of the following reasons: death or total and permanent disability; service in the armed forces (including those called to active duty); service with a foreign aid service of the federal government, such as the Peace Corps; or service on official church missions.
First-time student (undergraduate)
A student who has no prior postsecondary experience (except as noted below) attending any institution for the first time at the undergraduate level. This includes students enrolled in academic or occupational programs. It also includes students enrolled in the fall term who attended college for the first time in the prior summer term, and students who entered with advanced standing (college credits or postsecondary formal award earned before graduation from high school).
Full-time student
Undergraduate: A student enrolled for 12 or more semester credits, or 12 or more quarter credits, or 24 or more contact hours a week each term. Graduate: A student enrolled for 9 or more semester credits, or 9 or more quarter credits, or a student involved in thesis or dissertation preparation that is considered full-time by the institution. Doctor's degree - Professional practice - as defined by the institution.
Full-year cohort
This is a group of students entering at any time during the 12-month period for tracking and reporting. For Graduation Rate (GR), a full-year cohort is from September 1 through August 31 and is used primarily by institutions that offer occupational programs of varying lengths. Students must be full-time and first-time to be considered in the cohort. For Outcome Measures (OM) component, all degree-granting institutions report on a full-year cohort from July 1 through June 30. Students are reported once in one of the four OM cohorts: first-time, full-time; first-time, part-time: non-first-time, full-time; or non-first-time, part-time.
Integrated Postsecondary Education Data System (IPEDS)
The Integrated Postsecondary Education Data System (IPEDS), conducted by the NCES, began in 1986 and involves annual institution-level data collections. All postsecondary institutions that have a Program Participation Agreement with the Office of Postsecondary Education (OPE), U.S. Department of Education (throughout IPEDS referred to as "Title IV") are required to report data using a web-based data collection system. IPEDS currently consists of the following components: Institutional Characteristics (IC); 12-month Enrollment (E12);Completions (C); Admissions (ADM); Student Financial Aid (SFA); Human Resources (HR) composed of Employees by Assigned Position, Fall Staff, and Salaries; Fall Enrollment (EF); Graduation Rates (GR); Outcome Measures (OM); Finance (F); and Academic Libraries (AL).
Outcome Measures (OM)
This annual component aims to improve the collection of student progression and completion data on a more diverse group of undergraduate students at degree-granting institutions. Award and enrollment statuses are collected on four cohorts (first-time, full-time; first-time, part-time; non-first-time, full-time; and non-first-time, part-time) and on eight subcohorts (based on Pell Grant recipient status) of degree/certificate-seeking students at three points of time (four-, six-, and eight-years after entering the institution).
Part-time student
Undergraduate: A student enrolled for either less than 12 semester or quarter credits, or less than 24 contact hours a week each term. Graduate: A student enrolled for less than 9 semester or quarter credits.
Pell Grant program
(Higher Education Act of 1965, Title IV, Part A, Subpart I, as amended.) Provides grant assistance to eligible undergraduate postsecondary students with demonstrated financial need to help meet education expenses.
Postsecondary award, certificate, or diploma (at least 1 but less than 2 academic years)
An award that requires completion of an organized program of study at the postsecondary level (below the baccalaureate degree) in at least 1 but less than 2 full-time equivalent academic years , or designed for completion in at least 30 but less than 60 semester or trimester credit hours, or in at least 45 but less than 90 quarter credit hours, or in at least 900 but less than 1,800 contact or clock hours.
Postsecondary award, certificate, or diploma (at least 2 but less than 4 academic years)
An award that requires completion of an organized program of study at the postsecondary level (below the baccalaureate degree) in at least 2 but less than 4 full-time equivalent academic years , or designed for completion in at least 60 but less than 120 semester or trimester credit hours, or in at least 90 but less than 180 quarter credit hours, or in at least 1,800 but less than 3,600 contact or clock hours.
Postsecondary award, certificate, or diploma (less than 1 academic year)
An award that requires completion of an organized program of study at the postsecondary level (below the baccalaureate degree) in less than 1 academic year (2 semesters or 3 quarters), or designed for completion in less than 30 semester or trimester credit hours, or in less than 45 quarter credit hours, or in less than 900 contact or clock hours.
Subcohort
A predefined subset of the initial cohort or the revised cohort established for tracking purposes. Degree/certificate-seeking students in the bachelor's degree-seeking group in the Graduation Rates (GR) component and Pell-Grant, non-first-time, part-time students in the Outcome Measures (OM) component are examples of subcohorts. 
Title IV institution
An institution that has a written agreement with the Secretary of Education that allows the institution to participate in any of the Title IV federal student financial assistance programs (other than the State Student Incentive Grant (SSIG) and the National Early Intervention Scholarship and Partnership (NEISP) programs).
Transfer-in student
A student entering the reporting institution for the first time but known to have previously attended a postsecondary institution at the same level (e.g., undergraduate, graduate). This includes new students enrolled in the fall term who transferred into the institution the prior summer term. The student may transfer with or without credit.
Transfer-out student
A student that leaves the reporting institution and enrolls at another institution.
Transfer-preparatory program
A program designed specifically to provide a student with the basic knowledge needed to transfer into a higher level program. For example, this may be the first 2 years of a baccalaureate level program for which the institution does not offer an award, or 2 years of undergraduate study needed for entrance into a first-professional program, or 1 or more years of undergraduate study needed for entrance into health services fields.
Undergraduate
A student enrolled in a 4- or 5-year bachelor's degree program, an associate's degree program, or a vocational or technical program below the baccalaureate.
X

Current Survey Changes

The proposed changes to the 2017-18 OM survey component are primarily based on recommendations made during the August 23-24, 2016 Technical Review Panel (TRP) meeting, Outcome Measures 2017-18: New Data Collection Considerations. The August TRP was convened as a result of the public comments to the proposed changes for the 2016-17, 2017-18, and 2018-19 data collections received during the 60-day and 30-day comment periods. The initial proposed change for the 2016-17, 2017-18, and 2018-19 collections was the addition of a fifth cohort, Pell Grant recipients; however, this proposed change received several comments against adding only a single cohort for Pell recipients.

Starting in the 2016-17 data collection year, the Graduation Rate (GR) survey component collected the 150% graduation rates for first-time, full-time degree/certificate-seeking undergraduates who were Pell Grant recipients and Stafford borrowers who did not receive a Pell. To provide more Pell Grant recipient information on other types of undergraduates (e.g., non-first-time and part-time), NCES proposes to collect additional information on Pell Grant recipients through the following changes starting with the 2017-18 data collection year:

(1) All academic reporting institutions will begin reporting on a full-year cohort instead of fall-census date cohort. This proposed change would align the cohort coverage for all institutions and capture all cohort-eligible students who enter an institution at any point during the year. While some of the August TRP panelists cited a few concerns (i.e., loss of integration with the other IPEDS survey components and the increase in burden on institutions to track several cohorts for GR and OM), the change is critical if the Pell Grant cohorts (proposed change #2) are added to OM. One of the primary purposes for the creation of OM is to tell a more accurate completion story for institutions with small full-time, first-time student populations. Thus, for academic reporter institutions that enroll more nontraditional students or who enroll students outside of the fall semester, the full-year cohort better reflects the population of entering students. NCES is proposing that this year be defined as July 1-June 30, which matches the current collection period for 12 Month Enrollment but would be a change to OM for program reporters. The intent of the collection period is to include within a cohort students that are most similar.

One concern for academic reporters reporting on a full-year cohort is the question of how to report students who change their attendance status during the first full-year. NCES proposes that all students be assigned to a cohort at the point of entry to the institution. This guidance is similar to the GR and current OM guidance - once a student enters a cohort, the student remains in that cohort.

(2) Institutions will report a Pell Grant sub-cohort for each of the four Outcome Measure cohorts (i.e., full-time, first-time; part-time, first-time; full-time, non-first-time; and part-time, non-first-time), and NCES will calculate the respective sub-cohorts for non-Pell Grant recipients. Comments received through the public comment periods and the suggestions received during the August TRP overwhelmingly recommended not aggregating all Pell Grant recipients into a single cohort that combines attendance statuses and prior postsecondary experiences. Disaggregating Pell Grant recipients for each of the four cohorts allows for a more nuanced analysis and facilitates more meaningful comparisons across institutions.

(2a) Students who received a Pell Grant any time during the full cohort entry year will be included in one of the Pell Grant cohorts. Students who received a Pell Grant after the full-year are not included in the cohort. Initially, NCES proposed to count all students who received a Pell Grant at any time over the 8-year period in the Pell Grant OM cohort. While Pell at entry would undercount the number of Pell Grant recipients, TRP panelists noted that Pell at entry would provide a better measure of social capital at entry to improve comparisons, align the instructions with Pell graduation rates in the Graduation Rates survey component, and allow for less bias as most attrition occurs early in enrollment.

Recipients of Pell Grant dollars (disbursed) at that institution will be included in the Pell Grant sub-cohorts. Students who were awarded but did not receive a disbursement are not included.

(3) Institutions will begin reporting on a new award status at 4 years after entry. Currently, institutions report on an award status at 6 and 8 years after entry. Several comments from the public comment periods recommended that an award status at 4 years after entry should be collected to be in alignment with GR’s collection at 150% of normal time, which satisfies the Higher Education Act requirements, as amended.

(4) Institutions will begin reporting on the highest award (i.e., certificate/or equivalent, associate’s or bachelor’s) received at each status year after entry – 4 years, 6 years, and 8 years. The award statuses at 4, 6, and 8 years will be mutually exclusive (i.e., each student will be reported once at each status year, by the highest award level earned at that time). This change is different from previous OM instructions to report on the first award earned.

While some commenters recommended that award type should be reported based on award intent, the TRP strongly suggested that NCES collect data on award received because of the limitations associated with data on award intent. Students’ intent at entry may change, be unknown, or be unrealistic. Institutions with missions to prepare students for transfer would assign students to an award level that may not match actual intent. Finally, reporting on award sought could be manipulated to improve an institution’s metrics.

In sum, NCES has received thoughtful public comments and expert suggestions for improving the OM survey to collect more information on Pell Grant recipients, as several TRPs (#s 24, 37, 40, 45, and 50) have encouraged NCES to collect information on this vulnerable population. Data from the Federal Student Aid Data Center show that in 2014-15, the federal government disbursed $30.3 billion in Pell Grants to 8.4 million full- and part-time undergraduate students. In contrast, $13.1 billion was disbursed to 5.5 million students 10 years ago, reflecting a 10-year growth of the Pell Grant program by 131 percent in federal dollars to 50 percent more students. The Pell Grant program is a large commitment of public dollars to increase opportunities for the future workforce. The increased demands for accountability and transparency require measurement of the Pell Grant program. NCES notes that several of the public comments and the August TRP panelists aired concerns of the potential unintended consequences of evaluating an institution’s performance by metrics of how it educates Pell Grant recipients. While these concerns are important to keep in mind in evaluating the data, it is imperative for the federal government to have comparable and comprehensive institutional data on the Pell Grant recipient population.

Please note that due to the extent of changes, a number of updates were made to instructions and FAQs. It is advised that respondents review all instructions and FAQs before completing the OM form.



Changes to the Outcome Measures (OM) Form
Change Implementation year Source Estimated burden
  • Academic reporters will report on a full-year entering cohort:

Similar to program reporters, all reporting institutions to the OM survey will be given the same instructions when creating their OM cohort:

Institutions will report using a full-year cohort. Institutions will report on students that enrolled during the period between July 1, 2009 and June 30, 2010.

Students will be assigned to the appropriate cohort upon entry, and will remain in the assigned cohort.

2017-18 Public Comments from 60-day and 30-day comment periods and from Outcome Measure TRP 50 Substantial
  • Four Pell Grant sub-cohorts will be reported for each of the four OM cohorts (FTFT, PTFT, FTNFT, and PTNFT).

Students who received a Pell Grant (dollars disbursed) are included in the Pell Grant sub-cohorts. Institutions should not include students who were awarded a Pell Grant, but did not receive a disbursement.

Institutions will identify and include Pell Grant recipients who enrolled and received a Pell Grant within the cohort coverage period of July 1, 2009 and June 30, 2010. Students who enrolled but did not receive a Pell Grant during the cohort coverage period, but received a Pell Grant after June 30, 2010 are not included in the Pell Grant sub-cohorts.

2017-18 2017-18 Public Comments from 60-day and 30-day comment periods and from Outcome Measure TRP 50 Substantial
  • A new award status of 4-years after entry will be added.

Institutions will report the award status at 4-, 6- and 8-years. There is no change to enrollment status reporting requirements at 8 years after entry.

2017-18 Public Comments from 60-day and 30-day comment Substantial
  • At the 4-, 6-, and 8-year award statuses, institutions will report the highest award earned (i.e., certificates/equivalent, associate’s or bachelor’s).

For each of the OM cohorts, a non-Pell Grant recipient sub-cohort will be calculated by subtracting the Pell Grant recipient sub-cohort from the total of the same OM cohort.

Collect the status update from both 2- and 4-year degree-granting institutions at 8 years after the cohort enters the institution with award information collected for both the 6- and 8-year timeframes. Pell Grant recipient data collection will begin in 2017-18. Institutions will report on their 2009-10 cohorts.

Note: Data will not be disaggregated by race, ethnicity, or gender.

Note: No outcome data will be collected from non-degree-granting institutions.

2017-18 Public Comments from 60-day and 30-day comment periods and from Outcome Measure TRP 50 Substantial

Degree-granting institutions report the outcomes of degree/certificate-seeking undergraduate students who are not only first-time, full-time students, but also part-time attending and non-first-time (transfer-in) students. The award status is measured at specific points in times. For students that did not receive an award after 8 years, the enrollment status is reported.

Creating the OM Cohorts & Subcohorts: 2017-18 & Beyond