On Jan. 26, School District 202 proposed to the School Board one overarching goal for Evanston Township High School: “To improve the achievement of all students and ensure that racial and ethnic disparities in achievement are eliminated.”
A draft of the District’s goals for the 2011-12 year were developed as a result of “a broad-based process between Oct. 15 and Jan. 19 to gain input and involvement of constituents” led by Assistant Superintendents Laura Cooper and Oscar Hawthorne, administrators said.
The proposed goals emerging from this process are the same as in the past: literacy, numeracy, well-being and budget/finance; objectives and strategies have been expanded or altered to reflect input from stakeholders. Presentation and discussion during the Board meeting focused on literacy, numeracy and well-being goals.
The administration sought input from a wide variety of school groups including the School Improvement Team, Support Staff Association, safety staff, all academic departments, department chairs, SOS Core Team, Leadership Team, students on the Principal’s Advisory Team, and Teachers’ Council.
“People wanted to see increased coherence across and within the goals,” reported Superintendent Eric Witherspoon. “There were concerns about adding objectives, about decreasing the drop-out rate, and increasing enrollment in AP and honors classes. The greatest focus of all the groups turned out to be on the goal addressing well-being,” he said.
Board members had significant discussion about the goals, objectives and strategies themselves as well as the form of the presentation. Some issues were raised with regard to the simplicity or detailed nature of the document, the definition of a rigorous curriculum, inclusion of technology, inclusion of differentiated instruction and the lack of focus on excellence and equity.
“What is our process from here?” asked Board president Rachel Hayman after about an hour of discussion on the goals.
“We will try to incorporate everything we heard tonight and bring it back for discussion at the next meeting [Feb. 8],” responded Dr. Witherspoon. It was agreed that there would be at least one more meeting which would discuss the goals before bringing it back for a final vote.
Literacy and Numeracy
The literacy and numeracy goals have four similar objectives, three of which are the same as in the past.
• Meet the No Child Left Behind (NCLB) “Safe Harbor” provision by decreasing by 10 percent the percentage of students who do not meet standards in reading/math in all subgroups;
• Increase by 10 percent the gain in reading/math over the previous year for subgroups from EXPLORE to PLAN to ACT;
• Increase by 10 percent the percentage of ninth-grade black and Latino students enrolled in honors level classes; and
•Increase by ten percent the percentage of black and Latino students enrolled in English, history, science and math Advanced Placement courses.
Strategies within this category include test preparation, reading in the content areas, reading programs, improving instruction (math) access to a rigorous curriculum and professional learning communities (PLCs).
The well-being goal, which intends to “provide a system of supports, including a pyramid of interventions to enhance academic success and wellness for all students,” has two overall objectives and several other under the subcategories of academic, behavior, wellness, outreach and post-secondary planning.
The two overall objectives of well-being are as follows:
• Reduce subgroup population Ds and Fs by ten percent in all departments (This was previously also included under the literacy and numeracy goals); and
• Increase graduation rate for all students and subgroups to at least 90 percent.
Strategies include “developing a comprehensive approach to ensure that all students receive the supports and intervention necessary to meet social, emotional and physical needs” and teaching Effective Effort to all students.
• Reduce by ten percent the total number of reclassified students; and
• Increase by ten percent the percentage of ninth-grade students in elective classes.
Strategies include System of Supports, assessment and grading practices and credit recovery.
• Reduce by ten percent the number of students classified as chronic truants; and
• Reduce by ten percent the number of in and out-of-school suspensions and behavioral referrals
Strategies for improving behavior well-being include implementing Positive Behavior supports such as restorative justice, anger management, mentoring and substance abuse programs.
Reduce “consumption of high-fat foods purchased” at ETHS; and
Increase by five percent participation in athletic and extracurricular programs.
Strategies to improve wellness include offering healthy choices and strengthening nutrition education as well as designing and implementing extra-curricular and athletic recruitment program
Establish baselines for participation of parents and community members in ETHS activities.
Promote Evanston Township High School
Proposed strategies in this category include designing and conducting a parent and community survey and a marketing plan.
• Ensure that each senior has a post-secondary plan; and
• Increase by 15 percent the number of students enrolled in courses that lead to dual credit of industry recognized certification.
Strategies for this objective focused on beginning career and college planning in 9th grade and attaining or expanding certification and dual credit offerings.