SAS report critical of Wake schools' performance measures

Posted January 11, 2010
Updated January 12, 2010

— There are "hidden flaws" in how the Wake County Public School System measures student performance, according to research from Cary-based SAS Institute.

"It makes the schools appear better than they are," Dr. William Sanders, senior manager of SAS's value-added assessment and research, told Wake County commissioners Monday.

Dr. William Sanders SAS researcher critical of Wake schools' performance measures

Having already spoken before the school board, Sanders told commissioners that the best way to judge school performance is to look at individual students. He said the school system uses a model that places low expectations on groups of students because of their socio-economic status.

Sanders said that based on his review of student performance data, the school system is "hiding inequities that exist that our policymakers have to deal with."

Wake County commissioner Tony Gurley, who asked Sanders to speak before the board of commissioner Monday, said he understands that SAS's findings reveal several issues with the way the school system measures achievement.

"The school board has received this presentation. Together, we can work to more effectively utilize the resources that are available," he said.

SAS has long worked to provide educators with tools to help teachers and students, having spent more than a decade developing an online curriculum used by thousands of teachers across the United States.

It has also developed an alternate model to judging student performance called Education Value-Added Assessment System (EVAAS), which Sanders said does look at students individually.

It is one of many instruments used in the school system, and it is up to principals to determine whether they want to use it, school system spokesman Michael Evans said.

"It's a tool, like anything else," he said. "We've made it available to them, and if they are interested, we actively encourage them to use it."


This story is closed for comments.

Oldest First
View all
  • JustOneGodLessThanU Jan 15, 2010

    Tidbit, who said anything about race?

    The propensity for learning is directly correlated to socio-economic status.

    Poor children cannot learn as easily as rich children who need only worry about studying the subject matter and not worry about getting shot or if they will get food today.

  • FreeAmerica Jan 12, 2010

    The amount of money and manpower they spend on schools and TESTING is OUTRAGEOUS. Now they are even retesting. One school is taking the last 7 days out of 90 just to run their EOC's and makeups. Not a lot of time left to teach the curriculum.

    The ONLY way to solve the problem with schools is SCHOOL CHOICE. Let the PARENTS decide who gets their $7000 for each child. See how much schools will do to compete.

    Every educational argument is solved doing this. If a parent wants (or doesn't want) religion, creationism, real conservative principles, real history, etc. they will CHOOSE the school that will produce it for them.

    Of course right now it is just a MONOPOLY (and they continually fool people into thinking it should be).

  • cary1969 Jan 12, 2010

    more reason to eliminate busing and return to neighborhood schools. bring back the component of individual student acomplishments instead of overall test scores. it's obvious it doesn't work and the recently elected officials will hopefully maintain their campain promise and look further into this.

  • The Neutralizer Jan 12, 2010

    My child was a great reader and motivated student in the WCPSS. I noticed the evaluations were not consistent with the work product and there were kids who did not know how to read at the same grade level. It seemed as if the school held over achievers back to accommodate those who were falling behind. The school was located in a lower social economic area and many parents were scrambling to move their children out of this school. My child passed an admission test and was admitted to a private school. The results are amazing. Children are being constantly encouraged to excell and rewarded for their hard work.

    I don't think politics should play a role in a child's education. I think it is sad that people who have the means to invest in their kids education are cheap and rather purchase goods like fancy cars and expensive homes instead of paying for a good education.

  • seeingthru Jan 12, 2010

    no surprise judging by ths fine examples--sarcastic I see dragging themselves off buses here......pitiful;

  • speedy Jan 12, 2010

    I don't think some understand. This analysis software is a product line that SAS markets. They sell it to lots of school systems/colleges/universities. I don't think they give a hoot if WCPSS buys it. In fact, they gave it to them. Their selfish interest lies in creating the best possible school system so they may, in turn, attract the best talent to work for them here. THAT is why they had to open Cary Academy. Not all employees choose Cary Academy, so they have to improve the public offering as well. Attracting the best employees add to their bottom just happens to be good for the kids as well.

  • rnrcp Jan 12, 2010

    All I get from this is that SAS is unhappy with the fact that WCPSS did not choose to solely use the software SAS developed. SAS has an axe to grind from what I hear since WCPSS chose not to buy other software packages from them as well. As for the Goodnight family, I think they are entirely too use to getting their way and just can't stand anyone saying no to them.

  • Tidbit Jan 12, 2010

    I have a perfectly logical question for everyone to consider...Why is SAS (a business organization) doing a study on the effectiveness of WCPSS (education?) That is akin to teachers conducting a study on SAS business practices or doctors doing a study on the effectiveness of pilots?

    No it's not. SAS doing the study is part of their business. It is in their best interest to do the studies so that they can try to create ways to meet the software needs of the business owners (in this case the school system). SAS builds software for companies and businesses. That's what they do. They have analysts whose sole purpose is to learn what the user's job is, so they can translate that to programmers who build the software to make the user's job easier.
    If they aren't doing these types of studies, they aren't doing their job

  • Tidbit Jan 12, 2010

    Neighborhood Schools = Segregated Schools - hereandnow99

    So, if I understand you correctly, you are fully admitting that the Wake County school system is busing students for racial diversity - which is against Federal Law? and your ok with breaking federal law

  • Tidbit Jan 12, 2010

    hwy70e - and others..

    Question for you:

    You are against "neighborhood schools", I get it. From the group who opposes, I hear complaints that one of the largest reasons low income kids don't do well is lack of parent involvement.

    But how can a parent be involved in a school that is 30 miles away, when the parents are taking the bus to work? Isn't it easier for the parent to get involved if the school is within access?

    Also, how fair is it, to currently reduce the "expectation" of lower socio-economic students. How does that help educate them?

    I also ask, under the current system, only "some" students are bussed out of their socio-economic environment - what about the rest stuck there? How come they don't get a chance? what about the other students sent to those failing schools, that are being bused in to "balance" over crowding. How is it fair to them?