Q. What is SAP and how did it come about?
A. SAP is the standard for Satisfactory Academic Progress, something UTB/TSC has had for many years. Several years ago, the Academic Standards and Student Records Committee, composed of faculty, administrators and staff, became aware that some students were doing poorly from semester to semester but were continuing to sign up for classes and continuing to accrue a very low grade point average (GPA). In addition, many of these students were borrowing money to finance their low performance and were getting deeper into debt. Most of these students have gotten discouraged and then dropped out altogether, never completing the program they had been pursuing. So the committee made recommendations on enforcing a standard 2.0 GPA for good standing in all course work and moving students into a probationary status when their GPA first drops below this standard. Because of the state government’s growing concern about students’ completion rates, we have also added a completion rate standard of 70 percent of hours attempted to encourage students to complete the courses they sign up for and progress more rapidly toward graduation.
Q. How is the revised SAP different from years past?
A. We have made the revised policy less complicated than the previous one. In the past, there were different GPA levels depending on how many hours students had attempted, and it was hard for faculty and staff to advise students effectively about their academic progress because of the sliding scale. We are now intervening sooner than we did in the past and we are introducing strategies to help students who have fallen below the SAP standard to return to good standing.
Q. What happens if a student fails to meet the SAP requirements?
A. If at the end of a semester a student's cumulative GPA falls below 2.0 and/or a student's cumulative completion rate falls below 70 percent, the student is placed on probation. While on probation, the student is limited to 12 hours of course work and must meet appropriate intervention requirements. Students who earn at least a 2.0 GPA and 70 percent completion for the course work that semester can continue on probation or return to good standing if their cumulative GPA is 2.0 and their cumulative completion rate is 70 percent. Students who earn below a 2.0 GPA and 70 percent completion that semester are suspended and must wait until the end of the next long semester to return.
Q. What measures is the university taking to help students achieve SAP?
A. We have launched an extensive campaign to alert students to the revised SAP standards through such efforts as explanatory brochures, information in the student newspaper, and announcements on the electronic course bulletin board. In addition, we have met with faculty departments and staff units to explain how they can spread the word to students and emphasize the importance of setting the SAP standard for good standing as their goal every semester. We want students to be aware of the consequences and understand that if they do run into some serious problems—whether academic, personal, financial, or work related—we have professionals in every area to assist them.
Q. What kinds of goals does the university hope to reach with SAP?
A. We know that the great majority of our students are serious about pursuing a certificate or degree that can provide a valuable credential for employment, and we are committed to helping them identify problems as early as possible so they can complete their program of study and move on to their next goal. Successful students are those who prepare for every class, attend class regularly, and participate in discussions with their professors and fellow students. We believe that this renewed emphasis on maintaining good academic standing will help motivate students to take the right steps to be successful, and by doing so they have the potential to raise the quality of learning in every one of their courses. Ultimately, we expect that we will retain a higher percentage of students and graduate a larger number of students. If we are successful in achieving these goals, our community will reap the benefits of a better prepared workforce and a better informed citizenry.