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The efforts of Evanston Township High School to equalize the academic playing field for all students have garnered national attention.

WTTW’s Chicago Tonight, Education Week, and the National Journal are among the media sources that have cited ETHS as a model for increasing access to advanced curricula regardless of a student’s race, income or other factors that have historically predicted participation and success in the high school’s top classes.

Such media coverage, along with the April 2015 Washington Post naming ETHS as one of the most challenging high schools in the country, highlights the continued work of ETHS educators to expand access for nearly every incoming freshman to the high school’s most rigorous classes.

In the Chicago Tonight segment “Recruiting for Advanced Placement,” WTTW reporter Brandis Friedman points to 202 as a district that may help other school districts not only increase the number of students of color in high-level classes, but also improve student success.

In April, ETHS was part of a site visit coordinated by the American Educational Research Association (AERA) for leading researchers from across the country. AERA chose ETHS because of the school’s progressive freshman year restructuring initiative. During the visit, ETHS students and school leaders explained how restructuring and student supports have provided a foundation for increased access to honors-level classes, creating pathways to post-high school success for more students.

Debra Viadero discussed the AERA site visit and ETHS freshman year restructuring, including the unique “earned honors” model, in an article in Education Week. Pete Bavis, ETHS assistant superintendent for Curriculum and Instruction, told Ms. Viadero, “We wanted to create a clear path to advanced coursework.”

“At ETHS we are committed to equity and excellence for all students. Our efforts to restructure ETHS so more students are taking more rigorous courses is resulting in notable increases in the numbers of students who are prepared to achieve in honors and Advanced Placement courses,” said District 202 Superintendent Eric Witherspoon.

“We know we still have many challenges so that all students will be achieving and succeeding, but I am so proud of the strides our students and their teachers are making,” Dr. Witherspoon added. “They deserve this national recognition for what they are accomplishing here as they prepare for college and careers.”

Researchers from Northwestern University, University of Chicago, and University of Illinois are evaluating ETHS initiatives and results to help guide future efforts.