SAGE Report is 'Ideology Masquerading as Research'
A report claiming the SAGE class-size reduction program
is not a good investment for Wisconsin taxpayers is "ideology masquerading
as research," according to WEAC President Terry Craney.
The Wisconsin Policy Research Institute last week issued
a report stating that the SAGE program has had a minimal impact on student
performance, and then only in the lowest grades and for certain children.
"WPRI is a well-known conservative mouthpiece," Craney
said. "This is another in a long series of so-called research that is
nothing more than political posturing."
Craney said the benefits of SAGE are well-documented
and wide-ranging. State law requires an annual evaluation of the SAGE
program. Those evaluations, conducted by UW-Milwaukee Education Professor
Alex Molnar, have consistently shown improved student performance, especially
for African-American children.
research by Professor Alex Molnar has shown the benefits of SAGE,"
Craney said. "There is no doubt that SAGE improves student performance
in all participating grades. It is closing the gap between African-American
children and others. It's important to emphasize that SAGE is not solely
a class-size reduction program. SAGE contains four reform strategies,
including class size reduction, increasing collaboration between schools
and their communities, rigorous academic curriculum focusing on academic
achievement, and strong professional development and staff evaluation
Craney said the official 1999 SAGE evaluation found
that students in SAGE schools outperformed students in comparison schools
in every subject in every grade level (1st through 3rd grade) even though
SAGE students started out the school year behind their peers in comparison
schools. Students were tested in reading, language arts and mathematics.
"The claims made by WPRI are based on a misinterpretation
of data," Craney said. "This biased and often inaccurate report is a disservice
to parents, communities and educators seeking programs that create great
schools for all children."
Craney noted that WPRI is funded by the conservative
Bradley Foundation, which advocates for school privatization and voucher
"This report is a thinly veiled attempt to discredit
the class-size movement and garner support for Milwaukee's private school
voucher program," Craney said. "When one looks at the facts, it becomes
apparent that SAGE is more cost-effective than vouchers."
Craney added there have been evaluations of SAGE showing
student progress, while there is no research or information showing how
voucher students do.