Editor:

As District 202 moves toward finalizing their board goals, Evanston CASE has asked the Board to consider the well-being of ETHS students with disabilities by committing to a specific focus on their needs.  CASE examined most recently available ISBE School Report Card data and discovered that ETHS fares considerably worse than many of its neighboring high schools at reaching students with disabilities: 

Non-IEP vs. IEP – Illinois Report Card Data

Percent Meets & Exceeds (PSAE) 2014

School (11th Grade Reading)

Non-IEP

IEP

GAP

Evanston Township HS

78

26

52

Oak Park River Forest

78

52

26

New Trier

96

66

31

Glenbrook South

86

46

40

Glenbrook North

92

61

31

Niles North High School

71

25

46

Niles West High School

67

30

38

Deerfield High School

93

54

39

Chicago Public Schools

42

10

33

 

School (11th Grade Math)

Non-IEP

IEP

GAP

Evanston Township HS

76

27

49

Oak Park River Forest

74

42

32

New Trier

96

60

37

Glenbrook South

87

51

37

Glenbrook North

93

49

44

Niles North High School

69

28

41

Niles West High School

70

26

44

Deerfield High School

95

57

38

Chicago Public Schools

39

 7

32

School (11th Grade Science)

Non-IEP

IEP

GAP

Evanston Township HS

72

28

43

Oak Park River Forest

74

47

27

New Trier

94

67

27

Glenbrook South

81

52

29

Glenbrook North

88

61

26

Niles North High School

66

31

35

Niles West High School

66

26

41

Deerfield High School

90

53

37

Chicago Public Schools

31

 7

24

A few conclusions can be drawn from this comparison: 

  • ETHS had the largest achievement gap (between non-IEP and IEP) in reading.
  • ETHS had the largest achievement gap (between non-IEP and IEP) in math. 
  • ETHS had the largest achievement gap (between non-IEP and IEP) in science. 
  • With the exception of CPS and Niles North (1% lower), ETHS had the lowest percentage of IEP students meeting and exceeding standards in reading.
  • With the exception of CPS and Niles West (1% lower), ETHS had the lowest percentage of IEP students meeting and exceeding standards in math.
  • With the exception of CPS and Niles West (2% lower), ETHS had the lowest percentage of IEP students meeting and exceeding standards in science.  

ETHS should vow that it will no longer accept poor academic performance as the earmark of disability.  Only by naming this historically under-performing group in the District goal, will the Board develop and attune itself to measures that track outcomes for this group, build targeted programs, and allocate resources appropriately.  Conversely, if ETHS turns a blind eye to the achievement gap for students with disabilities those students will continue to have predictively negative outcomes and diminished futures.

We further propose that the Board expand the scope of Goal #1 to encompass both academic and functional growth.   Broadening the emphasis to preparedness for college, career and independence will more fully reflect the hopes and dreams of ETHS students with significant special needs, as well as others who, for a variety of reasons, may not be college-bound.  For many people — young and old – personal and academic growth, independent living, community engagement, civic participation, meaningful employment or military service are sources of tremendous pride.  We urge the D202 Board to craft a goal that inspires and supports excellence for all.  With that objective in mind, we have respectfully proposed the following language:

“Increase each student’s academic and functional trajectory, while eliminating the predictability of achievement (based on race, disability, income and English language proficiency) so that ALL students complete high school equipped with a post-secondary plan for college, career and independence and the skills to realize that plan.”                               

The D202 Board will be discussing the goals during its April 6th meeting.  We hope that this information will more fully prepare the public for this conversation, and we urge you to participate.

Cari Levin, LCSW

Executive Director, Evanston CASE

Jill Calian

Board Chair, Evanston CASE