At the District 65 School Board meeting on Nov. 16, administrators took issue with several statements we made in our Nov. 11 editorial, “School District 65 Should Set Higher Expectations For Eighth-Graders.” Specifically they expressed concern with the fact that we compared the average scale score of black eighth-graders on the ISATs with the average scale scores of all students in the state, rather than just black students in the state; and they challenged our assertion that the community used to have higher expectations in terms of what was expected to close the achievement gap in this District. We stand by the comments we made on each of these issues.

Administrators also said we did not sufficiently acknowledge the progress being made. We did acknowledge upfront that progress was being made in improving minority achievement, but our editorial was not intended to evaluate the extent of that progress. Instead we gave our view on whether black and Hispanic eighth-graders, on average, are prepared for high school and beyond when they graduate from District 65; and we took a look at the measures used to assess their preparedness.

Data from both the ISAT and EXPLORE test show that there is still a substantial gap in the achievement level between the District’s white eighth-graders and its black and Hispanic eighth-graders and that, on average, black and Hispanic eighth-graders are not on track for college readiness when they graduate from District 65.

We stand by our conclusion that the School Board should increase its expectations for eighth-grade students.