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At their joint meeting on March 14, the District 65 and 202 School Boards discussed outcome measures for their Joint Literacy Goal adopted in January 2014. That goal is to “ensure that all students are proficient readers and college and career ready by the time they reach 12th grade.”

In November 2015, administrators of both school districts presented a Joint Achievement Report which reported the percentage of students, kindergarten through twelfth grade, who were on track to college readiness in reading. Administrators said the report went hand-in-hand with the Joint Literacy Goal.

That report provided the percentage of twelfth-graders who met the ACT’s college readiness benchmark of 22 in reading. It also reported the percentage of third- through eighth-graders who were on track to meeting ACT’s college readiness benchmark in reading using scores identified for the Measures of Academic Progress (MAP) Test.

ETHS is giving students the ACT test this spring, but the Illinois State Board of Education has decided to switch from the ACT to the SAT, and it is anticipated that the SAT will be administered to all juniors in the State in 2017.

District 202 Board member Jonathon Baum said the Boards needed to define the desired outcomes for the Joint Literacy Goal. He said the whole idea was “we would have college ready learning proficiency in 12th grade,” and the Districts would backmap, or identify, where students needed to be in earlier grades to be college ready in 12th grade.

District 65 Board President Tracy Quattrocki said the Joint Achievement Report does that, “we just aren’t showing a spotlight on it.” She said next fall the Joint Achievement Report could continue to report the percentage of students who were college ready in reading using the ACT’s college readiness benchmark for twelfth grade and backmapped to MAP for third through eighth grades. In the following year, the measure for 12th grade could be the SAT backmapped to that, she said.

“It will take some tinkering, I’m sure, to convert to ACT/SAT backmapping. But we can do that,” said Ms. Quattrocki.

District 65 Board member Candance Chow said she thought it would be important to prepare a joint achievement report each year showing progress in reaching the Joint Literacy Goal.

District 65 Board member Richard Rykhus tried to nail it down. He asked if the administrators were committed to preparing a joint report showing progress in meeting the Joint Literacy Goal on an annual basis, and to use the ACT’s college readiness benchmark’s next year, and then remapping to the SAT in the following year.

Pete Bavis, assistant superintendent for curriculum and instruction at ETHS, said, “We’re committed to doing it. … It’s doable. We can do it.”

Paul Goren, superintendent of District 65, said, “The name of the game is alignment here. To what extent will the high psychometricians be able to say that what we have here as we’re measuring on ACT aligns with SAT. Then what’s the work we need to do to actually do that. That’s where Dr. [David] Figlio might be able to help or others. But, that’s the piece of the puzzle that we’re going to have to watch as we – you – roll out the SAT and figure out where that alignment is.”

The ACT’s college readiness benchmarks are set at a level where a student has a 50% probability of obtaining a B in freshman year college in a related course.

The College Board, the owner of the SAT, previously set college readiness benchmarks for the SAT at a level where a student had a 65% probability of obtaining a B- in a related course in freshman college. The College Board, however, has recently decided to shift to using a score at which a student has a 75% chance of obtaining a C in freshman year college.

As pointed out in the RoundTable’s March 10 editorial, the College Board’s shift to using a 75% chance of achieving a C as its benchmark will likely significantly lower the bar, and significantly lower expectations.

Studies show that 77% of the grades given in four-year colleges are As and Bs. In deciding to link to a B, rather than a C, the ACT said, “Grades of A and B are viewed as successes, while a grade of C is viewed as satisfactory or ‘just getting by.’”

Larry Gavin

Larry Gavin was a co-founder of the Evanston RoundTable in 1998 and assisted in its conversion to a non-profit in 2021. He has received many journalism awards for his articles on education, housing and...