Approximately two-thirds of the Evanston Township High School Class of 2017 (63%) and the Class of 2018 (65%) met at least three of the four college-readiness standards set by the Illinois State Board of Education (ISBE), according to the annual Student Achievement report. The report – presented at the Nov 12 meeting of the District 202 School Board – provides a breakdown by race, gender, household income status and IEP placement of how ETHS students align with academic indicators said to predict college readiness. 

The indicators, which have been endorsed by ISBE pursuant to the Illinois Every Students Succeeds Act (ESSA), are 1) earning a GPA of 2.8 or greater, 2) keeping a 95% attendance rate, 3) meeting at least one English/Language Arts (ELA) academic indicator, and 4) meeting at least one mathematics academic indicator.

The ELA academic indicators used by ETHS are 1) earning a C or higher in an ELA AP course, or 2) scoring a 3 or higher on an ELA AP exam, or 3) scoring a 480 or higher on the SAT reading and writing test, or 4) scoring a 22 on the ACT reading test.

The mathematics academic indicators used by ETHS are: 1) earning a C or higher in an Algebra 2 course; or 2) earning a C or higher in a mathematics AP course; or 3) scoring 3 or higher on a mathematics AP exam; or 4) scoring 530 or higher on the SAT math test; or 5) scoring a 22 or higher on the ACT math test. 

This annual ETHS report is “more contextual and relevant to ETHS” than the Illinois Report Card in that it uses College Board SAT benchmarks not ISBE numbers, and attendance rate is measured across four years of high school not just junior and senior years as with the ISBE plan said Pete Bavis, Assistant Superintendent of Curriculum and  Instruction.

The College Board’s SAT benchmarks for college readiness are lower than the benchmarks used by ISBE to measure proficiency for purposes of the State report cards. For example, the College Board benchmark score for ELA is 480, compared to ISBE’s proficiency benchmark score of 540. The College Board’s benchmark score for math is 530, compared to ISBE’s proficiency benchmark score of 540.

Overall Numbers

Approximately two-thirds, or 65%, of the Class of 2018 met at least three of the college-readiness standards analyzed in ETHS’s achievement report. The chart below illustrates the percentage of students in the Class of 2018 who met three criteria and the percentage who met four criteria, broken out by gender and race.

GPA of 2.8 or Greater

Sixty-three percent of the students in the Class of 2017 and 65% in the Class of 2018 achieved a GPA of 2.8 or greater, and each class maintained an average cumulative GPA of 3.0. The chart below illustrates the percentage of students in the Class of 2018 who achieved a GPA of 2.8 or higher, broken out by both gender and race/ethnicity for Black/African American, Hispanic/Latino and White students.

The achievement report broke out the data by race and gender which “gives us a little bit more information and to see where we have differences, areas of success and areas of growth” said Carrie Levy, ETHS Director of Research, Evaluation and Assessment.

As an example, Dr. Levy pointed to the GPA numbers, which show that females in most subgroups outperformed males.

The table below gives the average GPA of the subgroup indicated for the Class of 2017 and the Class of 2018.

95% Attendance Rate

Based on four years of attendance at ETHS, the Class of 2017 had an average attendance rate of 95%, and the Class of 2018 had an average attendance rate of 93%.

 “The State is going to look at 95% attendance in junior and senior year.  We just looked at across all four years – what percent of our students met that 95% attendance benchmark,” said Dr. Levy. “To give it a little more context we added our mean attendance rate across all four years.”

In total, for the Class of 2017, 74% met the 95% attendance rate; for the Class of 2018, 59% of students met the 9% benchmark. While the percent of students not meeting the benchmark was relatively high, the average attendance rates were close to 95% in each year.  Dr. Levy said the mean attendance rates were above 90% for all subgroups in each year. 

Meet at Least One ELA Academic Indicator

Two-thirds of the students in both the Class of 2017 (66%) and the Class of 2018 (68%) met one or more academic indicator in English/Language Arts. The chart below illustrates the percentage of students in the Class of 2018 who met the ELA indicators by race/ethnicity and gender.

Dr. Levy pointed out that the State has changed assessments at the high-school level over the years from ACT to PARCC to SAT. The Class of 2018 is the first year that all juniors had SAT as their State administered test, she said, so by next year, ETHS will have two years of SAT results. 

Dr. Levy said that there was an increase in the percentage of Hispanic/Latinx students who met at least one of the academic indicators for ELA from 45% in 2017 to 51% in 2018. She added that disaggregating the data by both race/ethnicity and gender provided more insights.

She said, “When we look at data disaggregated by race and gender, we can pull apart and see that our Latino males had a large increase from 39% meeting one or more of those benchmarks [in 2017] to 52% [in 2018], so this is just an example of how pulling it apart a little more gives us a little bit more context and lets us look and see where some areas of success are.”

Meet At Least One Mathematics Academic Indicator

About two-thirds of the students in both the Class of 2017 (66%) and the Class of 2018 (68%) met one or more academic indicator in math. The chart below illustrates the percentage of students in the Class of 2018 who met the math indicators by race/ethnicity and gender.

Dr. Levy said there was an increase between 2017 and 2018 for Black and Hispanic students and students with IEPs. When the data is disaggregated by both race and gender, Dr. Levy said the percentage of Black males who met one or more math criteria increased from 53% in 2017 to 64% in 2018; the percentage for Hispanic males increased from 66% in 2017 to 79% in 2018; and the percentage of students with an IEP increased from 47% in 2017 to 57% in 2018.

Other Board Goals Reviewed

As part of District 202’s Goal No. 2, the achievement report also looked at behavior referrals, extra-curricular involvement and graduation rates. 

Behavioral Referrals

The report indicated that 79% of all students in the Class of 2018 had four or fewer behavioral referrals across four years.

Broken out by subgroups, 62% of Black students, 79% of Hispanic students, 91% of White students, 63% of low-income students, and 65% of students with an IEP had four or fewer disciplinary referrals across the four years.

Dr Levy pointed out the percentage of Hispanic students who had fewer than four disciplinary referrals increased between 2017 and 2018. For Hispanic females the increase went from 66% in 2017 to 70% in 2018. For Hispanic males, the increase went from 63% in 2017 to 78% in 2018.

Extracurricular Activity

More than three-quarters, or 77%, of the students in the Class of 2018 participated in at least one extracurricular activity while at ETHS. This is down from the Class of 2017, which had 83% participation.  

Aside from White females, whose percentage remained at 94%, all other groups’ participation rates went down. The table below shows the participation rates for the Class or 2017 and 2018, for the subgroups indicated.

Graduation Rates

Based on data reported by ISBE, the achievement report shows that in 2018, 91% of ETHS students graduated within four years, down just slightly from 92% in 2017. These numbers are trending up over the past 5 years having been at 88% in 2014.

The table below shows the four- and five-year graduation rates for ETHS students in 2018.

ISBE Summative Designation and the State Report Card

The achievement report also reviewed the formula used by ISBE to give Illinois schools a summative designation or rating of “exemplary,” “commendable” or “under-performing.” ETHS was rated commendable.

 The formula is based on graduation rates, 9th grade on-track, chronic absenteeism, college and career readiness, climate survey (5 Essentials Survey), math and ELA proficiency and English Language Progress.

“This as a metric reveals as much as it conceals,” said Dr. Bavis. “I think it conceals quite a bit of ELA proficiency and math proficiency, because the Alpha weight here is graduation. It also tends to disproportionately affect schools that are more diverse and have smaller subgroups because the threshold for a subgroup is very small, and the fewer students you have in a subgroup the greater variability year-to-year. It really is interesting what gets rewarded and what gets sanctioned.”

Dr. Bavis said District 202 is “still looking at and still digging into [the data] because we don’t believe that it’s all perfect and aligned and cleaned up just yet. I mean you know there was a rush to get it out.”

He mentioned ELA and math proficiencies for students with IEPs, “We’re looking at 18.5% for ELA and 3.7% for math proficiency, and those are alarming and you know we have to dig in and really figure out what’s happening there.”

 Later in the same report card, however, “you get markedly different information on these metrics so in one part of the report card it looks like we grew and another part of the report card it looks like we regressed, so this is just the kind of thing that we have to sort out.” 

Another area that was a little bit troubling, Dr. Bavis said, was Advanced Placement (AP) data. “It looks like we had less than 10 students who had IEPs take AP classes. We’re going to double down and really look at that, and I’m going to make that a part of our AP report, because it doesn’t, at first blush, feel like an accurate number just based on the amount of accommodation rooms that we run on testing day.” 

 Dr. Bavis’s conclusion on the State Report card: “This is not a fully formed product it’s a little bit difficult to interpret.”

Measuring Progress Over Time

“What we need are numbers relevant to our goals that go back a significant number of years to take in the various changes that we’ve made, and a comparison of two cohorts one year apart is not very helpful,” said Board Member Jonathan Baum. “We’ve  done all sorts of things over the last five, seven, 10 years. We’ve engaged with Pacific Educational Group. We’ve  restructured the freshman year. We’ve had summits. We restructured the sophomore year. We’ve had all of these changes over the last year, so it seems to me the information that we need is how has that changed things and how much progress have we made.” 

“I’d like to have a consistent measure of proficiency,” said Dr. Bavis, referencing the required assessment changes from ACT to PARCC to SAT.  He suggested looking at the 75th percentile in AP, ACT, SAT scores over time – which is what the Montgomery County, Maryland, Public Schools do to chart equity and excellence. “I think that’s probably the closest we can come, because we can isolate the achievement to percentiles. We don’t have the data to have that conversation with this report.”

“We have methodology, but I would caution using the State report, because that’s not even close to the same methodology you are talking about,” said Superintendent Eric Witherspoon. “We will continue to look at reliable measurers.”

Dr. Witherspoon added that he thought that ETHS’s giving the entire SAT suite of tests each year “is going to inform us really in more detail than we probably ever had, so that is something that we’ll just be studying.”