SAS report critical of Wake schools' performance measures

Posted January 11, 2010 3:56 p.m. EST
Updated January 12, 2010 11:27 a.m. EST

— 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.

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."