The District 202 and 65 School Boards discussed their shared commitment to prepare students of color to take Advanced Placement courses during an Equity Update at a joint meeting on Oct 29.

Stacy Beardsley, Assistant Superintendent of Curriculum and Instruction at School District 65, and Pete Bavis, Assistant Superintendent for Curriculum and Instruction at District 202, presented numbers showing increased awareness, access and success in ETHS AP courses.

District 202 has received “wide independent recognition” for their AP program, said Dr. Bavis at the beginning of the presentation, acknowledging such groups as The Washington Post, Minority Student Achievement Network, PBS Newshour, Phi Delta Kappa and others.  He also called a 2015 State law requiring Illinois colleges to give college credit for high school AP classes earning a score of 3+ a “game changer.”

Continued Success but Gaps Persist

Access and success in ETHS AP courses have hit an all-time high, said Dr. Bavis. In 2017, ETHS had more scores of 3+ on AP exams than it had total exams in 2010 he said. There were 1,450 AP test scores of 3+ in 2017 compared to 1,384 AP tests administered in 2010.

Since 2006-7, access is up 120%. Scores of 3+ are up 66%. Each subgroup has made gains, said Dr. Bavis, but access and success gaps persist. During the 2016-17 school year, 64% of all 11th and 12th graders took at least one AP class: 87% of White students, 43% of Hispanic/Latino students and 36% of Black/AA students.

Those numbers are up from 2011-12 when 38% of all 12th graders took an AP class accounting for 59% of White students, 17% of Hispanic/Latino students and 23% Black/AA students. Scores are also up with 44% of students earning a 3+ on one or more AP exam. 

We are in “the middle of a shift, an adaptive change,” said Dr. Bavis.  The Districts are “creating AP students.”  There is “AP potential in all groups,” so increasing access should be “the norm not the exception.”

Part of that shift includes working more closely with District 65 to build awareness and prepare future ETHS students for the challenges of AP.

“We are creating an affirming environment,” said Dr. Beardsley.  District 65 is “looking at systems and structures” to be sure it is “not taking a path away” from any student. She and Dr. Bavis talked about Team ASAP, an AP support system for students run by students. The group has events throughout the year to “demystify AP” and has worked with students at Chute Middle School and Lincolnwood Middle School to help younger students see what AP courses are all about.

“You are creating a welcoming environment,” said District 202 Board member Monique Parsons, helping students “create a vision.”  AP outreach “has to be intentional,” she said.  “Students of color can achieve.  We are breaking stereotypes.” 

Courageous Conversations 2018

Following the AP report, Board members shared their experiences attending this year’s Courageous Conversations Summit. Pat Savage-Williams, District 202 Board president, was honored with the 2018 National Summit for Courageous Conversation Community Empowerment Award for her leadership in equity work. This award is presented to family members or local leaders who effectively broker collaboration focused on racial equity between and among community members and their schools.

This was the 9th summit Ms. Savage-Williams has attended, the largest yet, she said, with over 1,000 attendees. She along with District 202 Board Members Monique Parsons and Pat Maunsell, presented a session at the Summit about how School Boards can engage in equity work.

“We have made a significant investment in this work both in money and time,” said District 65 Board President Suni Kartha. “This past week shows why we need to focus on race.”