The District 202 School Board, at its May 9 meeting, continued to suggest revisions to the wording of four draft goals that will guide its work and the work of Evanston Township High School faculty and staff over the next five years. The Board has begun to focus on the outcomes and measures to be used to gage the progress toward meeting each goal.

Dr. Pete Bavis, Assistant Superintendent of Curriculum and Instruction, is leading the writing process under the direction of the Board. In crafting the latest draft, Dr. Bavis met with members of the administration to work on outcomes and measures and in doing so, “We kept three things in mind: What data are compelling?  What outcomes and data will move the District forward?  What outcomes and measures provide evidence of impact and/or are inspiring?” said Dr. Bavis.

Proposed Goal #1: Equitable Educational Outcomes

ETHS will increase each student’s academic and functional trajectory to realize college/career readiness and independence. Recognizing that race is the most devastating factor contributing to the diminished achievement of students, ETHS will strive to eliminate the predictability of academic achievement based upon race. ETHS will also strive to eliminate the predictability of academic achievement based upon family income, disabilities and status as English language learners.

Board members agreed this draft of the goal was more on target with their setting race as the most predominant factor affecting achievement while also addressing the impact of income, disability and a student’s grasp of the English language.

“I like that it is simple, clear and understandable,” said Anne Sills. Doug Holt suggested changing “race” to “racism.” He asked, “Is race the devastating factor? Is that what we mean to say?”

“The problem is racism,” said Gretchen Livingston. “Race doesn’t leave a person. We don’t want to make race a negative.”

Jonathan Baum said he was “pleased” with the changes to this goal from the initial version. “We are saying what we believe to be true and what we pledge to do, acknowledging the four categories.”

Outcome 1: 100% College Readiness

Several indicators were identified to measure students’ college/career readiness. They were derived from measures proposed by the School Superintendents’ Association and “adapted to fit ETHS specific outcomes,” according to Dr. Bavis’ report to the Board. National Clearinghouse data were used to develop specific indicators.

For college readiness, “we chose to look at persistence into sophmore year instead of 4-year college graduation because of the difference in timeframe. This metric also allows us to measure individual student progress and identify students who need additional support,” said Dr. Bavis. Persistence, as clarified by Carrie Levy, Director of Research, Evaluation & Assessment, is the likelihood of a college student to re-enroll in college; “to stick with it for more than one year.” 

“High school becomes less the factor after a few years of college,” said Dr. Eric Witherspoon, District 202 Superintendent. By focusing on persistence, “we are looking at what most directly relates to high school.”

The proposed metrics to demonstrate college readiness are: a student earn an overall GPA of 2.6, pass 2 Algebra with C- or better, take and pass an AP/PLTW Course, and graduate from ETHS.

Also, beginning in the 2016-17 school year, the SAT will become the state-administered college/career readiness assessment. Just as with the ACT, ETHS will monitor and report on SAT scores every year. SAT scores will not be validated as a measure of college persistence until at least 2020, according to Dr. Bavis’ report to the Board, at which time, the SAT will be added as a metric as well.

“It seems this is setting a low bar,” said Mr. Baum, pointing to the 2.6 GPA as a measure of college readiness. “I know this is all ETHS specific, but combined with the C- or better in Algebra, this didn’t come across as demanding.”

A C- here is different,” said Dr. Bavis, suggesting that such a grade in 2 Algebra is comparable to a B- in other parts of the country. A 2.6 GPA at ETHS “worked with students who persisted at their sophomore year (in college). There is a clear divide at 2.6.”

“All who persisted had a 2.6?” asked Mr. Baum.  “A 2.6 or higher,” said Ms. Levy.             

“There is still no growth measure,” stated Mr. Baum. “If the trajectory is to increase, we must have a growth measure. Dr. [David] Figlio of Northwestern University has offered to help. We need something.”

“Every year, we will have indicators to see if we are on track and growing to meet readiness measures,” said Ms. Levy.

“We will have the PSAT; no one has taken the SAT yet,” said Dr. Bavis. “We have much more nuanced planning like with the iCATs. This speaks to a series of strategies,” not just one test. Using these college readiness measures, there is an 86% chance of persistence, he said.

Outcome 2: 100% Career and Workforce Ready. The proposed career/workforce readiness metric requires that students obtain 95% attendance, graduate and obtain at least 2 or more of the following: 2 Algebra with C- or better, community service hours (25+ hours), two or more extra-curricular activities, workplace learning experience (e.g., job shadow or worksite visit, unpaid internship or paid job), industry recognized credential and/or dual credit Career Pathway course.

Dr. Bavis also added that he plans to work with Dr. Figlio at NU to “pare down” the career measures and outcomes, that currently there is “a lot to track down.”

Outcome 3: 100% Independence. Independence would be measured by “Indicator 14” which is an eight-question survey administered to students with an Individual Education Program (IEP). “It is the best post-secondary measure we have to gauge independence,” said Dr. Bavis.

Proposed Goal #2: Student Well-being

“ETHS will connect each student with supportive learning opportunities to facilitate social-emotional development and enhance academic growth.”

Outcome 1: 100% of students are present 95 percent or more per school year.

Measure: student attendance tracking reported by race, IEP, ELL, income.

Outcome 2: 100% of students do not receive a behavioral referral. Measure: Behavioral data reported by race, IEP, ELL, income.

Outcome 3: 100% of students will maintain or increase their GPA. Measure: GPA monitoring reported by race, IEP, ELL, income.

“This is about supports at ETHS, connecting students to learning supports. Learning opportunities is Goal 1,” said Ms. Livingston. “We lost the piece about contact with adults, the ICAT. I don’t like that this disappeared.”

“We set out how to determine students’ well-being,” said Dr. Bavis. The state-set truancy requirement is 95%. In looking at that, the frequency of behavior referrals and GPA, “when we see a dip, it is a flag for something,” he said. “Each line is a strategy and connects with an adult.”

Mr. Baum again asked if the measures set a “low bar” simply to “be here and not get in trouble.”

“I agree,” said Dr. Bavis, “but these are indicators of well-being,” not academic success.

“We are missing the piece about engagement,” said Monique Parsons. “The final goal is about engaging with the community, but what about the student who leaves at 3:30 every day. Are they engaged in activities?”

Not spending extra time at school may not be “causal”, said Dr. Witherspoon, “but it’s something to monitor. Maybe a student goes home to babysit or is involved with church.”  Monitoring well-being “becomes individualized.” said Dr. Witherspoon.

“Individuality needs more emphasis,” said Mr. Baum. “There must be a connect to supports to ensure each student will experience social-emotional well-being.”

Proposed Goal #3: Fiscal Accountability

“ETHS will provide prudent financial stewardship.”

Outcome 1: Maintain the District’s AAA bond rating. Measure: annual monitoring of the budget to assure budget compliance and budget stays within revenue levels.

Outcome 2: Maintain the District’s comprehensive Financial Recognition Rating from the State of Illinois. Continue practice of regular periodic evaluation of cost effectiveness of expenditures. Measures: Balanced operating budget annually to the Board of Education; Continue Mid-Year budget analysis of expenditures and annual Capital Improvement Plan review to assure regular evaluation of expenditures and infrastructure.

Outcome 3: Maintain the District’s transparency of financial reporting to the community and the taxpayers. Measures: Annual receipt of the national GFOA Certificate of Excellence in Financial Reporting award and the Nat’l Assoc. of School Business Officials Certificate of Excellence in Financial Reporting award; Annual receipt of the national GFOA Distinguished Budget Presentation award; Annual receipt of the national GFOA Popular Financial Report award;  Annual compliance with District adopted financial policies.

There was very little discussion on this goal. Mr. Holt asked about including reference to property tax rates. Bill Stafford, ETHS chief financial officer, said that the “math will change” with regards to taxes but that “has nothing to do with stewardship.”

Proposed Goal #4: Community Engagement and Partnerships

“ETHS will strengthen student learning and well-being through community and parent relationships to create an effective continuum of learning and seamless transitions into and out of ETHS.”

Outcome 1: 100% of partnerships are aligned to and contribute to the attainment of District Goals. Measure: District Goals/Partnerships Matrix

Outcome 2: 100% of parent/guardians demonstrate involvement with ETHS. Measures: participation in parent groups, school events, utilizing Home Access Center, parent teacher conferences.

Outcome 3: 100% of students meet freshman on track indicator. Measure: ISBE on track indicator.

Ms. Livingston asked that the word “parents” be changed to “adult or guardian.” Marcus Campbell, ETHS principal said that the school uses the word, “guardian” or “parent/guardian.”

Both Mr. Baum and Ms. Livingston spoke on a desire to add a specific reference to District 65 in the goal.

Mark Metz stated that strategies, which have yet to be incorporated into the goals, will likely include reference to District 65.

“I pledge that D65 will be a top strategy,” said Dr. Witherspoon.

Dr. Bavis added that, “We are at the strategy level a lot, not goal level” in the District 202 strategic plan. “Don’t lose sight that we have a joint (achievement) goal already.”

Mr. Baum also asked how to measure “alignment” to which Dr. Bavis said staff is working on a matrix for that.

Mr. Holt asked about Goal 6, which was removed and which dealt with benchmarking ETHS as compared to other schools. “It could be a strategy. We could codify our collaboration with other districts,” said Dr. Bavis.

A new draft of the goals will be presented at the next Board meeting on May 23 which begins at 7:30 pm in N112.  Board agendas are posted on the ETHS webpage on the Friday before each meeting.