Phillip O. Berry Academy hits high note with SAS® programming for high school courses
The hit TV show Glee has redefined cool for modern youth. But if the students and faculty at Phillip O. Berry Academy of Information Technology have anything to do with it, it won't be a membership in the glee club that drives up a teenager's cool factor, it will be a seat in a SAS programming class.
SAS programming for high school courses teach students how to prepare data for analysis and write SAS programs to solve problems. Now available to any high school in the US, it has already made an inspiring impact on a number of US schools and students.
"With SAS, I learned how to organize and analyze data in a logical format," says Terry Morant, a senior at Phillip O. Berry Academy of Technology. "It made me realize the importance of statistics in my everyday life. The class has been very beneficial to me."
With XHTML, Visual Basic .NET and computer engineering skills already being taught at AOIT, the leap to SAS programming may seem a little advanced and beyond the ken of the average high school student. But for visionary teachers like Jones, who see the value of introducing students early on to the power of analytical software, it just makes sense. She knows exposing the students to the software now will prepare them for using it in college and the workplace - where analytical skills are in hot demand.
Her intuition was right. In the first semester, Jones says she had 12 students taking the course. When word got out on what those initial students were doing with SAS, she had 20 students in the second semester and a waiting list. Now in its third year, Jones says 80 students - ranging in grades from 10 to 12 and who had at least a 3.0 grade-point average when they applied to get into the school - will take the course. Two more teachers have been added to deliver the program.
"The students like it," she explains. "They look at things that are interesting to them. They analyzed TV ratings data from students to determine what the most popular show was. They analyzed cars in the parking lot - make of car, tire manufacturer, license plates - and dropped stats on teachers in the hallway. The other teachers were asking me what I was doing with the kids in this class! The students just ran with it - they got excited about it."
One semester, when a proposal was made to transition the busing system to satellite stops, the Parent Teacher Association (PTA) asked Jones' class to run a survey to see how students would be affected by the change. Not only did they do the survey and run the results in SAS, they delivered the presentation to the school board. Jones says: "The students made it a personal crusade to keep the busing system as it was. The change happened anyway, but it empowered the kids.
"I just watch some of them transform over the semester," she says. "They go from struggling with PROC PRINT to telling me that they're going to do a PROQ FREQ or correlate this or concatenate two spreadsheets — it's really transformed the way I teach. I enjoy it so much.
"This course has been a joy to teach because they are so grateful for the opportunity. I tell all of my students that they have a real opportunity to capitalize on the knowledge they are gaining. I tell them to brag that they know how to use SAS and that door will be opened for them, even though they may not realize it until later."
Jones says that two students in the first graduating class have gone on to college and use SAS in their studies. Another student is preparing to go to North Carolina State University to study analytics. Some of her students will also be receiving SAS Certification.
"The relationship with SAS has been wonderful," she explains. "SAS is extremely dedicated to education; it's one of their core missions. They are willing to work and communicate with the schools in any way they can."
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Sharon Jones, MAT
Career and Technical Education Teacher
Phillip O. Berry Academy
Phillip O. Berry Academy of Technology wanted to provide course offerings that would demonstrate the importance of statistics and analysis in careers and everyday life while providing real-world experiences in SAS programming.
SAS programming for high school courses
“I just watch some of them transform over the semester. They go from struggling with PROC PRINT to telling me that they're going to do a PROC FREQ or correlate this or concatenate two spreadsheets - it's really transformed the way I teach. I enjoy it so much.”
Sharon Jones, MAT
Career and Technical Education Teacher