ETHS is making some progress toward meeting its goal to increase student achievement, according to the annual Report on Student Achievement which was presented to the District 202 School Board at its Oct. 10 meeting. The report compares test data to the goals set by the Board for the 2013-16 school years. Goals for the next five years have been adopted, but the measures of success for the goals are still being finalized.
One goal for the 2013-16 school years is to “increase each student’s academic trajectory as demonstrated through multiple measures.” The measures of success for that goal include that certain percentages of students will take an Advanced Placement (AP) or honors course and earn a score of 3 or higher on an AP Exam, that all students will meet the ACT’s benchmarks for college readiness on the ACT’s English and math tests, and that all students will graduate.
Enrollment in AP/Honors Courses
One measure of success is that 84% of eleventh and twelfth graders will enroll in honors and AP courses, by race and income.
In the 2015-16 school year, 83% of eleventh and twelfth graders were enrolled in at least one honors or AP course in the first semester, compared to 85% in 2014-15 and 82% in 2013-14.
Figure 1 gives the breakdown for black, Hispanic, and white students. The chart shows that 68% of black students, 76% of Hispanic students, and 95% of white students enrolled in at least one honors or AP course in the first semester of the 2015-16 school year.
Earning a 3 on an AP Exam
A second measure is that 71% of graduating seniors will pass (score a 3 or higher) at least one AP Exam prior to graduation. AP exams are graded on a scale of 1 (lowest) to 5 (highest). Depending on the college, students earning a 3, 4, or 5 may be awarded college credit.
The Report shows that of the 2016 graduating seniors who enrolled in at least one AP course, 62% earned a score of 3 or higher on at least one AP exam. This is down from 74% for the 2015 graduates and 66% for the 2014 graduates.
Figure 2 gives the trends for black, Hispanic, and white students. It shows that of the 2016 graduating seniors who enrolled in at least one AP course, 33% of black students, 63% of Hispanic students, and 71% of white students earned a score of 3 or higher on at least one AP exam.
By comparison, data published by the College Board shows that 63.49% of Illinois students who took an AP Exam in 2015 earned a score of 3 or higher.
Meeting ACT’s CRBs
A third measure is that 100% of students will be on track for the ACT’s College Readiness Benchmarks (CRB) in English and math.
In 2016, 72% of ETHS graduating seniors met ACT’s CRB in English with a score of 18 or higher, compared to 74% in 2015 and 71% in 2014. By comparison, 64% of students in Illinois and 61% of student nationwide in 2016 met the ACT’s CRB in English.
In 2016, 59% of ETHS graduating seniors met ACT’s CRB in math with a score of 22 or higher, compared to 61% in 2015 and 57% in 2014.
Figures 3 and 4 provide the breakdown by race/ethnicity. The beige bar in the chart shows the national average.
Graduation Measure: 100% of Students Will Graduate
In 2016, 89% of the 2012-13 freshman cohort graduated within four years, which is similar to 2015 (89%) and a slight increase over 2014 (88%). In 2014, 82% of students in the nation graduated in four years.
Broken down by race, 83% of black students, 88% of Hispanic students, and 94% of white students graduated in four-years.
In 2016, 92% of the 2011-12 freshman cohort graduated within five years, which is up from 2015 (91%) and 2014 (90%).
Broken down by race, 87% of black students graduated within five years, 88% of Hispanic students, and 96% of white students.
“Our outcomes are increasingly linked to graduation data,” said Pete Bavis, Assistant Superintendent for Curriculum and Instruction.
By reporting data for students who graduated, it eliminates students who did not graduate in calculating percentages, and as a result the percentages are likely higher than if the entire student body was considered.
Dr. Bavis said that students below the 40th percentile need to be tracked.
“That group really has to be the focus,” said Board Member Jonathon Baum, “in making equity concrete.” He pointed out that the report showed “no reduction” in racial predictability of achievement and “the challenge is really there; that’s where we have to focus.” Mr. Baum added that the “lack of growth is not encouraging.”
We certainly have not solved this issue,” said Superintendent Eric Witherspoon. ETHS is “holding our own or doing better while increasing numbers of kids not reading at grade level are entering. How do we do more than hold our own or see some gains when students are less prepared for high school? If they are prepared, they will graduate.”
Dr. Bavis pointed out that the percentage of black students meeting ACT’s CRB in English increased from 41.9 to 44.5 to 46.1. There has been a “gradual increase over time,” he said. “Is the gap narrowing – no. We need to double efforts for striving readers.”
Note re Using ACT’s college readiness benchmark for the English test: ETHS reports the percentage of graduating seniors who earned a score of 18 on the ACT’s English test. The ACT’s report, “Updating the ACT College Readiness Benchmarks” (2013), says score of 18 on the English test indicates that a student has a 50% chance of earning a B or higher in English Composition in freshman year college. ETHS does not report the percentage of students who earned a score of 22 in the ACT’s reading test. The ACT’s 2013 report says a score of 22 indicates that a student has a 50% of earning a B or higher in freshman year college social science courses: American History, Other History, Psychology, Sociology, Political Science, and Economics. The difference is significant because a score of 18 on the English exam corresponds to the 39th national percentile, while a score of 22 on the Reading exam corresponds to the 56th national percentile. — Larry Gavin