Student Achievement Guarantee in Education (SAGE) funded schools with low-income students in kindergarten through third grades to keep class sizes small. A twenty-year old Wisconsin Department of Public Instruction initiative, it has been ”shown to raise achievement and graduation rates, especially among black students.” Specifically, according to a Value- Added Research Center Report of the UW-Madison, compared to non-SAGE students and schools, SAGE had positive effects on kindergartner’s reading academic growth, K-2 math and reading academic growth, 9th and 10th graders staying in school, and fewer disadvantaged students dropping out. The Legislature replaced the program with one that allows instructional coaching for teachers and one-on-one tutoring for students instead.
Effects on Wisconsin Schools:
According to WisconsinWatch.org, “The state Department of Public Instruction charged [this change] will “dilute” the positive impact of the program. It is notable that SAGE schools had a higher proportion of African-American students, a higher proportion of economically disadvantaged students, and a lower proportion of white students than non-SAGE schools (UW). This program was viewed by many as a key effort to reduce the achievement gap.
Connection for English Language Arts/ NCTE:
In April of 2014, NCTE’s “Why Class Size Matters Today” states, “Overall, research shows that students in smaller classes perform better in all subjects and on all assessments when compared to their peers in larger classes.” In addition, the 2015 NCTE Education Policy Platform states, “Equity is essential to meet America’s promise of equal opportunity for all citizens.” Cutting a program proven to help close achievement gaps does not further equity.