A high percentage of two cohorts of black and Hispanic District 65 students who were eighth graders in 2009-10 and 2010-11 went on to graduate from Evanston Township High School within five years and then enroll in a post-secondary institution, according to a Joint Superintendent Report presented to the School Boards at a joint meeting on Oct. 23.
One striking characteristic of those students is that about 80% of them scored above the 50th percentile in reading on the MAP test in eighth grade.
The purpose of the report was to determine what variables (e.g., grade point average, courses taken, standardized test scores, discipline referrals, and placement) of Black and Hispanic students’ in middle school and high school predict success in high school and college.
Peter Godard, School District 65 Chief Officer of Research, Accountability, & Data, and Carrie Levy, School District 202 Director of Research, Evaluation, and Assessment, said they viewed the report as an “exploratory analysis.”
Success at and Graduation from ETHS
The report focuses on students who were eighth graders in District 65 in the 2009-10 and 2010-11 school years, and who either graduated within five years from ETHS in 2014-15 or 2015-16 or who remained at ETHS for five years and did not graduate. According to the report, there are 270 Black students and 194 Hispanic students in this group (the D65 Cohort). About 70% of the students in the D65 Cohort were from low-income households.
According to the report, about 40% of both Black and Hispanic students in the D65 Cohort earned a GPA of 2.8 or higher at ETHS. About 48% of each group met ACT’s college readiness benchmark (CRB) in English; and 31% of Black students and 38% of Hispanic students met ACT’s CRB in math.
With respect to graduation rates and college enrollment rates, the report says:
• 92% of the Black students in the D65 Cohort graduated from ETHS within five years, and of those 80% enrolled in a post-secondary institution. Overall, 74% of the Black students in the D65 Cohort went on to enroll in a post-secondary institution.
• 94% of the Hispanic students in the D65 Cohort graduated from ETHS within five years, and of those 74% enrolled in a post-secondary institution. Overall, about 70% of the Hispanic students in the D65 Cohort went on to enroll in a post-secondary institution.
• Higher percentages of Black and Hispanic females in the D65 Cohort enrolled in post-secondary institutions than Black and Hispanic males.
The report shows a high correlation between scoring above the 50th percentile in reading in 8th grade and enrolling in a post-secondary institution. The data shows that 90% of D65 Black females, 87% of D65 Black males, 95% of D65 Hispanic females, and 79% of D65 Hispanic males who enrolled in a post-secondary institution scored above the 50th percentile in reading on MAP in 8th grade.
Dr. Levy said the report defines a “post-secondary institution” to include both two- and four-year colleges. The data thus includes students who enrolled at Oakton Community college, an open enrollment school, and other open enrollment and non-selective four-year colleges.
The report does not break out how many students attended two-year colleges, how many attended non-competitive four-year colleges, how many attended competitive four-year colleges, etc.
According to ETHS’s report card on Illinois State Board of Education’s s website, 91 ETHS graduates enrolled in a community college in 2014 (the latest year for which data is available on ISBE’s website); 63% of those students took at least one remedial class.
Performance at ETHS
The report shows some additional high school performance data of students in the D65 Cohort who enrolled in a post-secondary institution:
• 67% of Black and 81% of Hispanic students who took at least one AP course at ETHS enrolled in a post-secondary institution.
• At least 80% of both Black and Hispanic students who earned a C or higher in Algebra 2 at ETHS enrolled in a post-secondary institution.
• The report concluded that a student’s failure to meet the ACT’s CRB in English and math “did not appear to be a barrier for a student’s enrollment in a post-secondary institution.”
• The report found that a GPA of 2.8 at ETHS did “not seem to provide a meaningful distinction” for enrolling in a postsecondary institution.
An Exploratory Analysis
Mr. Godard said, “We treated this as an exploratory analysis. We were interested to know, using some of the criteria the State Board of Education will be using to evaluate our Districts, whether those criteria are good predictors of whether students will be successful in enrolling in college after graduation.
“We both agreed that what is found is not sufficient to really allow us to draw all the conclusions that we would want to be able to draw and to be able to take our analysis and be able to turn it into a useful tool for educators.”
Mr. Godard added that the two Districts are working with Northwestern University to identify the factors that contribute to post-secondary success. That model will use more nuanced data to identify predictors of college success “defined as enrollment in a post-secondary institution for five consecutive semesters,” he said. See accompanying story.