The Heller Report: S&P School Evaluation Service strives to identify best practices

S&P School Evaluation Service strives to identify best practices

Standard & Poors (S&P, New York, NY) went live, online for their second education client in October, thus inviting the question of how quickly their new School Evaluation Service (SES) will sell. Last spring, SES announced a new evaluation service for schools in Michigan along with Pennsylvania’s intention to implement the system.

William Cox, managing director for S&P’s SES, says the product is essentially selling itself as an independent perspective and analysis on school district financial and academic performance. SES provides both quantitative and qualitative analyses of existing data in six categories: district expenditures; student outcomes; return on resources; finances, taxes and debt; learning environment such as class and school size; and demographics. S&P’s greatest task is standardizing definitions so figures can be accurately compared between districts–and eventually states. S&P posts the data and its analysis reports on the web for the public and educators.

Those reports include 12-15 page summaries of a district’s strengths, challenges and concerns, risks, and other key factors such as district’s performance on statewide and national assessments, dropout rates, class size, teacher salaries, and how much and where schools are spending money. Called S&P Observations, they include charts and graphs to illustrate these findings.

While Cox reports numerous contracts are in the works, no new clients can yet be reported for the innovative service. S&P will soon introduce a second round of SES for Michigan and Pennsylvania with a new analysis of more recent data. Cox says he hopes to have all fifty states signed-on in the next few years. Cross state analysis, after all, vastly increases the value of the product.

With that broad market anticipated, his attention now is focused on growing the service into a tool that can identify best practices. This effort may well open the door to partners who can supply collaboration or knowledge management tools.

Cox is also hungry for data, and he is interested in working with the numerous electronic curriculum providers who are capable of gathering increasingly sophisticated performance data.

COPYRIGHT 2001 Nelson B. Heller & Associates

COPYRIGHT 2001 Gale Group