District 65 sixth- and seventh-graders will soon be exposed to the type of document-based questions (DBQs)now given to students at Evanston Township High School, said Stacy Beardsley, District 65’s interim executive director of Curriculum & Instruction at a joint District 65/202 committee meeting on Oct. 22. “We’ll look at alignment at the kindergarten- through- eighth- grade level with the grades-9-12 level,” she said. This year, social studies students will answer DBQs, and next year the program will move into science courses, she said.

“A lot of professional alignment is taking place,” Ms. Beardsley added.

District 202 Board member Jonathan Baum said, “I think there is kind of a hole in our literacy goal with benchmarks for proficiency. The last I heard we still hadn’t identified at any level what it means to be proficient.” He added, “We’re in the second or third year of this goal. The question is, ‘When they are in fifth grade, we need to know how that correlates to 11th grade.’”

“We need to know earlier than that,” said Dr. Bavis. “We can’t wait for the state-of-the-art to arrive. We can predict all day long, but if we meet a struggling reader … what do we do right now to intervene?”

District 65 Board member Candance Chow said, “I thought the Joint Accountability Report [anticipated next month] will look at the key transition points. … If we’re going to set this very lofty goal – and we did – we need a benchmark.”

The Joint Accountability Report will contain standardized test data from the PARCC and MAP tests.

 “All of the work of each district around disciplinary literacy will continue here,” said Dr. Bavis.

Dr. Bavis said he hoped that the Joint Accountability Report will “bolster the need for this work and deepen the sense of urgency for it.”

District 65 Board President Tracy Quattrocki suggested looking at the Joint Accountability Report and the Joint Literacy Goal separately. 

Ms. Quattrocki also asked what is being done to help students with middle-school literacy since many struggle with the more difficult high-school texts. Dr. Beardsley said she will look into that – since the DBQs cover only non-fiction – and report at the next joint meeting.  

Mary Gavin

Mary Gavin is the founder of the Evanston RoundTable. After 23 years as its publisher and manager, she helped transition the RoundTable to nonprofit status in 2021. She continues to write, edit, mentor...