March 2017

SAKE on Monday, March 27

We’ll be mixing things up a bit at this month’s Student Analytics Knowledge Exchange! Kathryn Potts from the School of Engineering will be sharing that school’s efforts to improve reporting and access to information with SIRIS, with a focus on looking at time in degree for graduate students.

(Hopefully we’ll also have some good news about SIRIS Census data...)

Time: 11am Monday, March 27

Place: Room 243 Littlefield Center

Note that there will be no SAKE meeting in April as many of us will be at the annual HEDW conference.

Upcoming SIRIS Trainings

Dashboard Training

(search for IRDS-0100 in STARS):

  • Wednesday, 4/5 from 1-4pm
  • Friday, 4/7 from 1-4pm

Note that you must have been granted access to SIRIS at least 24 hours before the training session.

As always, if you would like to arrange custom group or one-on-one training, for either dashboards or ad hoc, please email us.

Exploring the Ad Hoc Fields: Social Class and Academic Class

In this next installment of our series exploring the many fields available in the SIRIS ad hoc environment, we want to focus on a common reporting need—the ability to break students down by their “class.” As you might expect, there are multiple ways to define an individual student's level. We’re going to highlight two fields frequently used for this purpose: UG Social Class and Academic Class. Both fields can be found in the “Student Academic Characteristics” folder, in the “Academic Activity and Status” subfolder.

UG Social Class: As the name suggests, UG Social Class only has values for undergraduates (e.g. UG Year 1, UG Year 2, UG Year 5+, etc.). Colloquially, when we refer to undergraduate students as “freshmen” or “juniors,” we usually intend to convey something about how long they they have been at Stanford, as opposed to how many units they have accrued towards graduation. UG Social Class groups students according to this more familiar concept of “class,” based solely on the time elapsed since they first enrolled.

UG Social Class is calculated based on the number of years between the current year and the UG Cohort Year (also available as a field in SIRIS), which captures the year a student began their undergraduate career. The UG Cohort Year is always the calendar year of the Spring quarter of the year the freshmen begin their studies, i.e. freshmen who begin in autumn 2014 of the 2014-2015 academic year are in the 2015 cohort. Students who transfer into Stanford are assigned a back-dated UG Cohort year based on how many units of transfer credit they bring in, so a student who transfers in during Autumn 2016-17 with enough units to obtain junior status would be in the 2015 UG Cohort.

UG Social Class is often a more conceptually accurate representation of a student’s class, however, it does have some limitations. For example, it does not take into account any leave time, so even if a student takes a year off, their UG Social Class will continue to group them with their entering cohort.

Academic Class: Unlike UG Social Class, Academic Class applies to all careers at Stanford, including graduate and professional careers. If a student has multiple careers active, a trumping logic is used to determine their Academic Class so that an individual only ever has one value for Academic Class (see the DGC entry for details). Academic Class is based on a field found in PeopleSoft (Academic Level) and for undergraduates, it provides an indication of how much progress a student has made towards their degree based solely on the number of units earned.

The values for “Academic Class Long Desc” for undergraduates reflect more familiar terminology (i.e. sophomore, junior, etc.) however, these values are not indicative of how long a student has been at Stanford. As you can see in the chart below, there are some students who start the Autumn of their freshman year with enough transfer and AP test credit to begin with sophomore status in terms of their Academic Class. By the Spring of their first year, more than half of the 2016 cohort had accumulated enough units to achieve sophomore standing.

For reporting purposes, Academic Class can be a good field to use when the question involves a student’s progress toward their degree, for example—Who is likely to graduate next quarter? A student may have a UG Social Class of “UG Yr 4”, but if that same person only has an Academic Class of “junior”, it’s highly unlikely they will be able to earn enough units to graduate next quarter. UG Social Class and UG Cohort Year, on the other hand, are very useful when the questions are in terms of elapsed time—How many students take Math in their first two years?

Important note: In the Plan and Term Enrollment subject area, both of these fields always return the current value (meaning, the student’s class or level as of the current term), even when including information from a prior term. If you want to see a student’s class at a previous point in time, you can either use the “Historical Folders” (as in the example below), which only go back to Autumn 2015 (when SIRIS began), or you can use the upcoming Census Enrollment release, which provides historical snapshots. For terms in which a student is not enrolled, they will have an Academic Class Long Desc value of “Not Active”.

If you’d like to read more about UG Social Class and Academic Class, including how the latter is calculated for undergraduates, please visit the Data Governance Center, where you can find the entire ad hoc field structure and definitions for all the terms appearing in SIRIS.


Confused? Curious? Concerned? Send us an email at or attend an upcoming SAKE meeting (see above for the schedule).

New in the SIRIS “Report Library”

There are now several reports in the new SIRIS Report Library which are accessible to both dashboard and ad hoc users. To find them, go to and use the catalog to navigate to Shared Folders > Student Analytics > Report Library.

Currently, the following reports are available:

Plan and Term Enrollment

Current Coterminal Master’s Student List

◦ Enrolled Student Count by Term and School, Degree-Seeking (Gender)

◦ Enrolled Student Count by Term and School, Degree-Seeking (Race/Ethnicity)

◦ Enrolled Student Count by Term and School, Non-Degree-Seeking (Gender)

◦ Enrolled Student Count by Term and School, Non-Degree-Seeking (Race/Ethnicity)

◦ Enrollment History for a Student

◦ Joint Graduate Program Student List

Degrees Conferred & Plan Completions
◦ Plan Completions by Year and School (includes subplans and minors)

If you have a request for a new report that you’d like to see in the library, please send us a note.

Bringing Back SUDS-STU!

Starting in late April/early May, the regular meetings of the student chapter of the Stanford University Data Stewardship group (SUDS-STU) will resume to discuss and finalize the data dictionary entries for the terms appearing in SIRIS 2. If you have opinions about the definitions of data elements related to courses and class enrollment, and if a spirited debate about the precise meaning of “crosslisted class” sounds appealing, you are welcome to attend the meetings. Please let us know if you’d like to be added to the list.

SIRIS (Student Integrated Reporting and Information System) is a tool designed to allow customized and in-depth reporting on students at Stanford. SIRIS is sponsored by the University Budget Office and Business Affairs, and is the product of a collaborative effort between Institutional Research and Decision Support  and Administrative Systems, in consultation with the Registrar’s Office and representatives from the Schools and VP areas.

Email or visit to learn more.

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