The District 202 School Board reviewed a final draft of its goals for the 2012-15 school years on at its SEPT. 10 meeting, concluding a process started last year with participation by staff, parents and community members.
“I want to offer my thanks on behalf of the Board to everyone,” said Board president Mark Metz. “A lot of people gave time to give a start to where we are today… it was very useful to get that input … We now have a set of goals that are meaningful that we can get behind. This will be helpful and get us where we want to go.” Discussions about the goals dominated discussion at several Board meetings as well as numerous focus groups and a community workshop last March.
There are six goals in the proposal, presented by Assistant Superintendent Peter Bavis and Research Director Judith Levinson. In most cases, specific targets and measures accompany each goal. The goals cover student achievement and student support, followed by building and grounds infrastructure, financial health, community relations and promotion of District reputation.
“I am so much happier than I was when we adopted the last set,” said Board member Gretchen Livingston. “We have completely turned ourselves around to developing something I can embrace enthusiastically.”
Board member Jonathan Baum agreed. “This is groundbreaking work,” he said.
Goal 1 commits the District to “increase each student’s academic trajectory as demonstrated through multiple measures” and includes targets such as growth in performance on standardized tests, graduation rate, enrollment in honors and AP courses and enrollment in post-secondary education.
Mr. Baum said that Goal 1 means “we are committing ourselves to measuring the value added of the ETHS experience.” He also applauded the focus on the achievement of each student, rather than earlier measures, which focused more on the average achievement of groups.
Goal 2 says that the District will “provide individualized supports, programs, services, and curricula to ensure that each student will demonstrate significant academic and social-emotional growth during their experience at ETHS.” It includes targets for student participation in extracurricular and athletic activities, academic supports, graduation rate and an evaluation of whether students are receiving adequate personal attention.
“This goal is critical to ending anonymity at ETHS,” Mr. Baum remarked. “We’re not going to let anyone slip through the cracks.”
According to the proposal, the administration set numerical targets for the first two goals. “For most, we have set 100 percent as the target. It should be understood that this target is aspirational in intent,”Drs. Bavis and Levinson wrote. For example, “100 percent of students will graduate in four years” and “100 percent of students will be on track for college readiness in English and math.”
However, administrators acknowledged “there were a few targets for which 100 percent is not appropriate.” For example, “71 percent of graduating seniors will pass (score of 3 or higher) at least one AP test prior to graduation. Administrators said they based this target on Stevenson High School “which is the top-performing school in Illinois for this indicator.”
Another example was the target that 80 percent of students will continue in school within two semesters of graduating high school. Administrators said they “based this target on National Student Clearinghouse numbers and a belief that 80 percent is a high bar for this indicator.”
Goal 3 says that the District will “create a student-centered facility using 21st-century resources to support the needs of our diverse learning community” by improving science labs and security systems, completing capital improvement projects, reducing the school building’s carbon footprint and improving bilingual signage.
“Consistent and stable financial stewardship” is at the heart of Goal 4 which will enable the District to ensure “excellent education and opportunity for each student, reasonable property taxes, leveraging and optimizing resources; and values-based, cost effective allocation of resources.” This includes maintaining the District’s AAA bond rating, financial recognition by the State of Illinois, controlling the District’s portion of the total Evanston property tax bill and maintaining adequate fund balances.
Strong relationships throughout the community “which enrich engagement among all stakeholders and enhance student learning and well-being, and assure full continuity of effort with District 65” is Goal 5. This will be achieved by maintaining school-parent channels of information, expanding information sharing and articulation with District 65, utilizing a variety of media to publicize District 202’s achievements.
“This goal means that we’re not just going to talk with District 65,” said Mr. Baum. “We’re going to take concrete steps” in the relationship.
Lastly, Goal 6 seeks to “Maximize the reputation of ETHS.” The proposal says this will be achieved through communicating a range of the District’s positive accomplishments such as number of students taking AP courses and attending selective colleges and universities, national awards won as well as how the District compares to a list of 12 area high schools (to be determined) on a number of measures such as AP course offerings, participation and achievement, graduation rate, percentage of freshmen on track for college readiness and number of electives and extra-curricular activities.
Mr. Baum, who proposed Goal 6 somewhat after the others had been established said, “This is a commitment on our part to be transparent and compete in the educational marketplace … It’s not just a public relations or a communications goal.”
Vote on Sept. 24
The Board is set to vote on the goals at its meeting on Sept. 24. Given the reaction on Sept. 10, the goals are likely to be approved. Once that takes place, Drs. Bavis and Levinson said they will work with the District’s Leadership Team to identify strategies for each of the targets.
The full text of the proposed goals, targets and measures can be viewed on the District 202 website http://www.eths.k12.il.us/assets/1/Documents/2012-15%20Board%20Goals_DRAFT.pdf.