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Plano Independent School District uses SAS® to avoid NCLB test score surprises


Teachers can predict student outcomes and intervene

The Plano (TX) Independent School District is using software from SAS, the leader in business intelligence, to measure student progress and predict performance on end-of-year No Child Left Behind and state accountability tests. Using the SAS Enterprise Intelligence Platform, Plano’s teachers access student data quickly, predict outcomes and intervene to help students reach their potential.

Plano is one of Texas’ highest-performing school districts; every Plano school met adequate yearly progress goals on all NCLB indicators in 2007. But with increased enrollment of economically disadvantaged students and students who do not speak English at home, there are still challenges. A school can be deemed “failing” if one subgroup is not performing, and thus allow transfers or offer expensive tutoring services.

The Plano system contains data about more than 53,000 students and 4,000 teachers and includes everything from national test results to classroom test scores. It provides data at the district level as well as customizable, on-demand information to every teacher at its 68 sites.

With data modeling, Plano predicts likely student test results early in the year and take steps to improve student success on an individual basis. The data can be presented visually, which helps when teachers need to commu­nicate with parents. The district can also better assess the qual­ity of its teaching.

“We used to do things intuitively,’’ explains Jim Hirsch, Associate Super­intendent of Academic and Technology Services. “Now to truly maximize each student’s academic achievement, we need to identify the cognitive ability of each student, in addition to their indi­vidual achievement from pre-K through 12th grade, and match that with the curriculum and instructional strategies to help them achieve at their highest level. Without a new level of analytic capability within our performance management system, that task would be impossible.”

“We wanted to be able to put the right resources in the right place to affect the student’s outcome when it’s needed and not after the fact,’’ says Doug Otto, Plano’s Superintendent.

With SAS, Plano relates student performance to a number of variables, including traditional ones such as finance and quality of staff. The solution also involves differentiating instruction to improve test results.

The district looks at how much each child progressed and can tell which teachers are succeeding and which need more instructional help. Plano measures program effectiveness – be it reading curriculum or techniques for helping at-risk learners – more objectively, and identify students ready for honors or Advanced Placement courses.

The district has been so pleased with the initial SAS implementation that it is expanding its use into human resources and finance.

“We want the same capability in HR and finance to provide real-time data with relational databases and even use the predictive capabilities that the SAS solution brings to us,’’ Otto says. “SAS has proved to be an actively involved, committed and loyal partner"

With more than 2,000 college, university and business-school customers in 109 countries and education specialists on every continent, SAS serves the education industry by delivering software solutions, strategic services and academic programs that spark innovation and expand educational opportunities.

The announcement was made today at the American Association of School Administrators 2008 National Conference on Education.


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