Freshmen who enter Evanston Township High School in the fall of 2011 who are reading at grade level and above will now be assigned to a single level of Humanities class.

The class will be taught at the honors level and will require students to earn honors credit based on their performance on several common assessments, to be administered over the course of the semester.  This “restructured freshman experience” was unanimously approved by the D202 School Board at its meeting on Dec. 13 after much debate, public comment, panel discussions and administrator presentations that took place over the course of three previous meetings.

Administrators say they hope that the new structure will provide more opportunity for students, especially minority students, to take more challenging courses in later years at ETHS. They also say they hope the measure will help to address persistent achievement problems for many minority and low-income students.  Also, administrators maintain that high-achieving students will benefit from the revised, more rigorous curriculum and a more diverse classroom environment. 

This new structure replaces the one which has been in effect since 2008, under which students testing above the 95th percentile in reading on the eighth-grade EXPLORE test were assigned to an honors-only class, while students testing between the 40th and 94th percentile were assigned to a class taught with an honors curriculum, but where students could elect to take the course for regular or honors credit.

Students testing below the 40th percentile have been, and will continue to be placed in Humanities with Support, a modified curriculum with significant reading assistance included to bring them up to grade level.

The approved proposal includes taking a similar approach to Freshman Biology, a step to be implemented in the fall of 2012.