Twelve teachers were granted tenure at the April 22 meeting of the District 202 School Board, several of them Evanston Township High School alums: Richard Agin, Rachel Robertson and Whitney Rutherford (mathematics); Beth Arey and Tina Tiziano-Dreher (student services); Melissa Costello (history/social studies); Luella Gesky (physical education); Elizabeth Holzkopf, Gina Pearson and Elizabeth Schroeder (special education); and Rosette Ochoa and Gion Matthias Schelbert (science).

Mr. Schelbert previously received the Harold Jensen Award, a peer award that honors teachers who use physics to inspire and intrigue students.

Each School Board member and Superintendent Eric Witherspoon congratulated the teachers. “This is a huge achievement,” said Dr. Witherspoon. “To be invited to achieve tenure at this high school is … a great recognition.”

Dr. Witherspoon also noted that ETHS has been ranked 14th in Illinois in the Washington Post list of America’s most challenging high schools. Washington Post writer Jay Matthews said he compiled his list by creating an index score for each school: “The index score is the number of college-level tests [Advanced Placement, International Baccalaureate and Advanced International Certificate of Education] given at a school in 2012 divided by the number of graduates that year.”

In the posting about each school – but separate from the “challenging” index – “are the percentage of students who come from families that qualify for lunch subsidies and the percentage of graduates who passed at least one college-level test during their high school career, called equity and excellence,” according to the Washington Post.

Walter Payton College Prep in Chicago ranked as the most challenging high school in Illinois, while several suburban high schools also ranked in the top 40: Buffalo Grove (7), Hinsdale Central (8), Prospect (12), Libertyville (13) and Fremd (17). The two schools – and municipalities – to which Evanston and ETHS often compare themselves were ranked lower: Oak Park/River Forest was ranked 23 and New Trier, 38.

Dr. Witherspoon also reported that ETHS has received a Bright Red Apple award from School Search; it is one of 78 school districts in Illinois to be so recognized. The award, according to its website, is “based on five family-favored categories: academic performance, pupil/teacher ratio, expenditure per pupil, educational level of teachers and average teacher salary.” That information is compiled from the 2011 Illinois School Report Card.

ETHS also placed in the top 2 percent of high schools nationwide and has been awarded a gold-medal ranking by U.S. News & World Report. The ranking is based on factors such as state proficiency standards and how well students are prepared for college.

ETHS is one of only 19 high schools in Illinois, including magnet schools, to receive a gold-medal ranking for 2013. While schools with the highest results for college-readiness were deemed gold-medal winners, the full methodology for the national and state rankings reflected how well high schools serve all of their students, not just those who are planning to go to college. In demonstrating measurable academic outcomes, ETHS ranked 18th in the state among 667 Illinois high schools and 479 Illinois school districts, according to a release from ETHS.

“This is a win-win,” said Dr. Witherspoon. “Students are benefiting from taking more challenging courses, and our school is benefiting by earning prestigious national recognition.”