In March 2009, the District 65 School Board adopted a five-year strategic plan that was recommended by the District’s strategic planning committee. One key goal of that plan is to: “Ensure that students graduating from the District have the necessary skills to be successful in high school and adult life.”

During meetings of the Strategic Plan Committee, the facilitator Bill Attea urged the committee to recommend goals in general terms. In contrast, he said, the School Board should put meat on the goals by establishing measures and targets of success.

Later that year the School Board adopted the following statement with respect to the eighth-grade goal:

“Using a mix of measures, including assessment on state standards and Measures of Academic Progress (MAP), the district will determine whether students are graduating District 65 with the skills necessary to be successful in high school and adult life. The baselines will be determined by the percent of students meeting state standards and percent of students above the 50th and 75th percentiles during the 2009-10 school year.”

This statement did not put meat on the goal. Instead, it effectively put the goal in limbo.

The goal statement does not state how the District will “determine whether students are graduating with the skills necessary to be successful in high school and adult life.” The baseline data being gathered (% meeting standards, % above 50th and 75th percentiles) are not aligned with the proficiencies needed to be on track for college readiness. There are no targets of success. There is no accountability.

The RoundTable has urged the Board in numerous editorials, both last year and this year, to adopt a goal that students be college ready when they graduate from District 65 and to adopt clear measures and targets of success to meet that goal. So far the Board has not done so.

At the Board’s Oct. 3 meeting, Board President Keith Terry opened a discussion about college and career readiness, and Board member Tracy Quattrocki asked the District to report data showing the percent of students who are on track for college readiness using the benchmarks identified by Paul Zavitkovsky, of the Urban School Leadership Program at the University of Illinois-Chicago. This sounds like a good first step toward putting real meat on the bones of the eighth-grade goal in the five-year strategic plan.

Larry Gavin

Larry Gavin was a co-founder of the Evanston RoundTable in 1998 and assisted in its conversion to a non-profit in 2021. He has received many journalism awards for his articles on education, housing and...