High-performing schools remove the barrier between good and great

Hershey Intermediate reaches for the sky with SAS® EVAAS® for K-12

At Hershey Intermediate School, even the highest performing students are encouraged to do a little better. The school is part of the Derry Township School District of Pennsylvania – home to a number of America's Blue Ribbon schools and one of Newsweek's America's Best High Schools.

As one of the top academic schools in the Derry Township School District of Pennsylvania, Hershey Intermediate is using the SAS® Education Value-Added Assessment System for K-12 (EVAAS) to help underperforming students improve their academic growth and trajectories, while ensuring high achievers stay challenged and take their academic performance to the next level.

SAS EVAAS for K-12 gives teachers a true measure of the impact they are having in the classroom.

Lori Dixon

"We can't be complacent with students who are already achieving at high levels. We want to make sure that their time in school is well spent and that we're impacting and stretching them at the upper levels as well," says Lori Dixon, Principal at Hershey Intermediate School. "The district superintendent asked the administrative team to read Good to Great by Jim Collins. The very first sentence is 'good is the enemy of great' – that struck a chord with me being in Hershey because we're in a good school district. I think at times it's easy to be complacent and not really push yourself, the teachers or the students to do better – we don't have to be sick to get better or be doing poorly to constantly look at our data on student growth. SAS EVAAS for K-12 gives teachers a true measure of the impact they are having in the classroom."

SAS EVAAS for K-12, known as PVAAS in Pennsylvania, is a reporting, analysis and predictive modeling environment that collects student performance data, allowing state educators to determine appropriate and effective interventions that benefit every student, regardless of his or her achievement level.

According to Dixon, there's a distinct difference between what state assessment scores can tell a teacher and the information PVAAS delivers – and she never passes up a chance to tell anyone.

"Our local newspaper always prints our state assessment scores" explains Dixon. "We've always done well. The first year that we used PVAAS our results were printed in the paper and even though 85 percent of my students were proficient, I knew we didn't grow those students as much as we should have. I found myself educating parents and the media on how to report results in terms of growth versus traditional achievement data."

Using PVAAS at the start of school to predict where students will be by summer vacation has instilled a sense of urgency among staff members to do as much as they can to affect student growth during the school year.

"We use PVAAS reporting at the beginning of the school year to look at the growth made by students advancing to the next grade," she explains. "At our intervention planning meeting with teachers, guidance counselors, psychologists and intervention specialists, we look at each student on a variety of data points to determine the likelihood of students earning a proficient or higher score on the standardized state tests; we use that to drive our instruction."

"With a projected score, not just the student's score from the previous year, you get an idea of where students are going," says Brian Blase, a teacher at Hershey Intermediate School. "Knowing that a student has a low likelihood of becoming proficient gives us a chance to adjust our instruction before they take the state test. You can also look at the data at year end and say that we did grow the students – that's the biggest benefit. It's like having a multidirectional look – not just forward or backwards, but both directions."

"One of the most significant results we've achieved with PVAAS is the focus on specific student skills," says Dixon. "We made a philosophical change to how we assess and report grades so that we're not only looking at the 'A' in reading a student achieved, but the skills they actually learned and where they are along the learning process."

Dixon also says PVAAS will play a significant role in getting more students enrolled in college by 2020.

"As an elementary school principal I have the responsibility of laying down a good foundation for learning," concludes Dixon. "I think PVAAS is very effective. It gives you the data when you need it, not after the students are gone and you are left asking yourself what you could have done differently. It gives you data to impact their instruction now."


Required a reporting and analysis system to help develop education plans that improve the academic growth and trajectories of underperforming students, while ensuring that high achievers stay challenged and enhance their academic performance.


SAS® EVAAS® for K-12


Allows state educators to determine effective interventions that benefit every student, regardless of his or her achievement level, and provides insight into the skills students attain instead of just the grade they received.

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