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School District 202 administrators reported on how two cohorts of students measured up against a subset of college and career indicators identified in the Illinois Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA) State Plan which was approved by the U.S. Department of Education a few months ago.
“The academic indicators are laid out as a series of conditional statements,“ said Pete Bavis, Assistant Superintendent of Curriculum and Instruction.
“I’m not here to argue the validity of these measures to predict student success, but we’re here tonight to present an intermediate analysis of these measures,” he said.
Dr. Bavis added that District 202 and Northwestern University are working together to identify criteria that will predict “college persistence,” which will be defined “as enrollment in a post-secondary institution for at least five consecutive semesters.” He said this will include a deeper analysis of GPA, course taking patterns, SAT scores, as well as other academic indicators.
“The goal of the model is to develop a series of indicators across the grade levels to help ETHS faculty and administration identify whether or not students are on track for post-secondary success.”
The State Criteria for College/Career Readiness
Under Illinois’ ESSA Plan, the report says, some of the criteria that students need to meet to be considered college and career ready are: 1) a high school GPA of 2.8 or greater; and 2) 95% attendance; and 3) one academic indicator in English/language arts (ELA); and 4) one academic indicator in mathematics.
The academic indicators identified in the Illinois ESSA Plan for ELA and which are analyzed in ETHS’ achievement report are:
• Taking an ELA AP course and earning a C or higher,
• Or ELA AP exam score of 3 or higher,
• Or Reading and Writing SAT subject score of 480 or higher,
• Or ACT English subject score of 18 or higher and ACT Reading subject score of 22 or higher
Dr. Bavis said students must meet one of the four indicators to meet the academic criteria in ELA.
The academic indicators for Math include:
• Taking Algebra 2 and earning a C or higher,
Or Taking a mathematics AP course and earning a C or higher,
• Or Mathematics AP exam score of 3 or higher,
• Or Math SAT subject score of 530 or higher.
Again, Dr. Bavis said students must meet one of the four indicators to meet the academic criteria in Math.
ETHS Goal No. 1: Equitable and Excellent Education
ETHS’s achievement report analyzes the percent of students in two cohorts who met the State’s four criteria for college and career readiness (GPA, Attendance, ELA, and Math).
The first cohort is a group of students who started ninth grade in 2013 and who graduated within either four or five years, in 2016 or 2017 respectively. The second cohort is a group of students who started ninth grade in 2014 and who graduated in four years in 2017.
Because the data only includes students who graduated from ETHS, the percentages of students who met the criteria are higher than they would be if students who did not graduate were included.
The report found that of the students in the second cohort (i.e. those who graduated in four years in 2017), 48% met all four criteria to be considered college and career ready. Broken down by subgroup, 72% of white students met all four criteria; 27% of Hispanic students met all four criteria; 22% of all Black students met all four criteria; and 22% of low-income students met all four criteria. See accompanying chart.
The table below provides the percentage of students in the subgroups indicated who met the criteria indicated. The data is presented for the cohort of students who graduated in four years in 2017.
The report also reflected the percentage of students who met the college readiness benchmarks (CRB) on either the SAT or the ACT in ELA and Math. The table below provides the data for the cohort of students who graduated in four years in 2017.
Goal 2: Student Well-Being
Districts 202’s second goal focuses on student well-being, including attendance, behavioral referrals, and extra-curricular activities. One measure for this goal is that 100% of students do not receive a disciplinary referral. A second measure is that 100% of students will participate in at least one extra-curricular activity.
Overall, Carrie Levy, Director of Research, Evaluation, and Assessment at ETHS, reported that 55% of the second cohort (those that graduated in four years in 2017) did not receive a behavioral referral and 83% of the students participated in at least one extracurricular activity. The table below provides the data by race/ethnicity.
“These are behavioral referrals not actions,” clarified Dr. Levy. “Referrals can turn into actions; these are referrals.”
Board member Gretchen Livingston asked about the attendance rates, noting that in some cases close to half of a subgroup did not reach a 95% attendance rate. days. She asked, “What are we doing to get that number up?”
“It’s a high bar, we have to acknowledge that,” said Dr. Bavis, about the 95% benchmark. “The work we’re doing here on belonging, creating safe spaces, has increased attendance.” There are “a lot of stories underneath this. We need to look at distribution and relationships with those who are chronically absent.”
Board Member Jonathan Baum said the report, “underscores what we did with our last set of goals. Low income and IEP students are the lowest [achievers]. We did the right thing to add those characteristics as predictors of achievement along with race.”
Pointing to data showing performance on the ACT, Mr. Baum said, “We’ve done a lot of things over the last six years to eliminate the racial predictability of achievement. Does this suggest we’ve made any significant dent?”
“I’d have to look at distribution scores to determine that,” said Dr. Bavis. In scores of 27 and higher “we have seen more significant growth. I take this as one marker.”
EDITOR’S NOTE: The report says that ETHS is partnering with Northwestern University to identify multiple measures that indicate a student is on track to college readiness. The project defines college readiness in terms of “college persistence,” which is “defined “as enrollment in a post-secondary institution for at least five consecutive semesters.” In a series of editorials, the RoundTable has opined that defining college readiness or success as enrolling in five consecutive semesters in any post-secondary institution sets low expectations for students. We are concerned about this because the proposed definition is linked to academic skills that we think are lower than those needed to enroll in and graduate from four-year colleges, such as Northern Illinois, Northeastern Illinois University, DePaul University, and University of Illinois at Chicago. See e.g., “We urge the District 202 School Board to Raise Expectations for College Readiness” (posted online, April 19, 2017), and “A Look at ETHS’s Proposed Model to Define ‘College Readiness,’” (posted online April 5, 2017).