The District 202 School Board voted unanimously to approve course changes for next year that include the addition of Civics and a writing-intensive English class to the sophomore year curriculum.

A total of 49 courses will be changed for the 2017-18 school year at Evanston Township High School: 31 new classes will be added, five will be deleted, and 13 modified.  The full list of changes was reviewed and discussed at the Board’s Nov. 14 meeting and officially approved at its Dec. 12 meeting.  The addition of an Early Bird Jazz class was originally part of the proposal but was withdrawn before the December meeting to allow more time to develop the curriculum.

“We’ve been on a rapid learning curve in recent years and looking at raising student achievement, and we think addressing sophomore year is important and will accelerate that work and open the door for more students to be prepared for more challenging courses their junior and senior years and beyond,” said Superintendent Eric Witherspoon to the Board. “Writing is a critical skill. Writing is one way to improve reading. So both [courses] will be designed so all students get an intense challenge, accelerating performance and rigor. I’m very excited.”

The new sophomore course 2 English will be writing-intensive and more self-directed. This change satisfies a new State mandate for a second year of a writing-intensive curriculum. The class also “provides a clear academic pathway to honors and AP work in the 11th and 12th grade and is a response to increased enrollment in these classes,” Pete Bavis, Assistant Superintendent, told the RoundTable. “There will be a clear pathway to honors credit that requires students to take the initiative to submit a portfolio to demonstrate the depth and development of their writing.” Two reading classes, Reading in Science Summer Course and Sophomore Reading, have also been added to help supplement the new English class, to expand current supports and “acknowledge a need to do more” to help struggling readers.

Another State requirement is being addressed with the addition of the Civics class. The class will replace 2 Humanities, 2 Humanities Enriched and Modern World History.  

The addition of the Sophomore Civics class made it necessary to rework Freshman History. Nicole Parker, ETHS History Chairman, said the decision was made to keep History a three-year requirement despite adding the full year of Civics. To do this, the department, “did some analysis of what District 65 does” in history. By the end of eighth grade, students learn history through the Middle Ages. The decision was made to “revamp” Freshman History beginning this year to “allow more time to get through the last 200 years.” This decision will be re-evaluated again in the spring.

Other New Course Highlights

The World Language Department is extending American Sign Language to a fourth year.   The current three-year offering is the third most popular language course at ETHS.  Introduction to Fashion will provide students with both a history of fashion and hands-on fashion design experience.  Oakton Math 140 is a dual-credit class with Oakton to include College Algebra. 

In science, a Biotechnology summer school course is being developed in conjunction with the Office of STEM Educational Partnerships at Northwestern University.  A Forensics course will also be offered. 

New fine arts courses include 1 Piano.

Course Revisions

Many of the revisions are “title changes made to clarify course sequences and pathways,” said Dr. Bavis.   Others “broaden student participation, integrate more lab experiences, and respond to state requirements.”  Introduction to Programming will be updated to a cloud-based platform and will integrate programing in JavaScript. Manufacturing Engineering will be revised to include FIRST Robotics.  

Course Deletions

Aside from the three history classes that are being cut to make way for the new Civics and restructured freshman offering, the CTE Department’s Community Service class, which has not run in eight years, has been cut, as has Seminar in Western Music.