skip to main navigation skip to demographic navigationskip to welcome messageskip to quicklinksskip to features
  • Continue Your Membership
  • WEAC Member Benefits

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.

"Solid 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 practices."

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 programs.

"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.

Education News