Evanston Township High School Director of Research, Evaluation and Assessment Carrie Levy introduced a new annual report model to the District 202 School Board Monday night, including changes to the basic sections of the report and the core data included in the document. 

In past years, what was known as the “Achievement Report” typically included enrollment numbers, college readiness benchmarks like average GPA, attendance and standardized test performance measurements. The 2016-17 Annual Achievement Report, for example, featured statistics showing the percentage of students who received an A, B or C grade in AP math and English courses and the percentage who scored a 3 or higher on those AP exams. 

Over the last several years, though, the Achievement Reports have slowly phased out specifically focusing on AP scores and grades in favor of measuring college readiness benchmarks based on a combination of course grades and standardized tests. Now, Levy said the new “Year in Review” report model will include six basic sections: academic measures, attendance, wellbeing, college and career readiness, postsecondary enrollment and postsecondary graduation rate. 

“We found this as an opportunity to incorporate new data points we haven’t previously reported that we’ve been starting to collect some more robust data on,” Levy said to the board on Monday. “It’s an opportunity to create a transition between prior year reports, and as you go through the process in this next year and your new district goals, to kind of look forward, to see what we can provide with data we have.”

In terms of the most significant new information available with these changes, the school is now reporting that 83% of graduates enroll in a postsecondary institution within two years of completing high school. That number includes students who take courses at Oakton Community College, which is open enrollment. Fifty-nine percent of ETHS graduates finish a postsecondary degree within six years, which also includes students who complete an associates degree within four years.

The postsecondary enrollment and graduation data presented in the report did not include any breakdown by race, gender or socioeconomic status.

However, due to both a lack of data available during the pandemic and the changes to the report, SAT/ACT score information will primarily be available through the Illinois State Board of Education’s School Report Card, and details on AP scores will be included in the separate board report on Advanced Placement, according to Levy. 

In an email to the RoundTable, Levy stressed that in the separate AP report for board members, they will receive detailed information that includes longitudinal, disaggregated and course-level data. 

“What matters most is transparency in reporting State-sponsored standardized test data. That’s why it is extremely important that we use the State reporting mechanism and State data on State-sponsored standardized tests rather than separate reporting,” Levy said. “The bottom line is that once SAT scores are released as part of the school report card, we will report on those scores.”

The Year in Review Report also mentioned that the average unweighted GPA for 2021 graduates was a 3.17. Historically marginalized identities, including Black, Hispanic, special education and low-income students, comprised the groups that fell below the school’s college readiness benchmark GPA of 2.8.

(Image via District 202)

Those same groups also fell below the benchmark daily average attendance rate of 95%, while the attendance rate for all students was 96.4%. Both the attendance rates and average GPA data reflect trends from prior class years, as well.

Reactions among school board members emphasized that more data and more details are better so they can gather all the relevant information to make the best possible decisions for students and families. Board member Gretchen Livingston urged Levy and Assistant Superintendent for Curriculum and Instruction Dr. Pete Bavis to bring forward more SAT and AP score data as soon as it’s available to complement the Year in Review report as it currently stands.

“We’ve got to figure out how to convey all these bits and pieces to our community, and parents need to be able to go somewhere on the website. And this is too much,” Livingston said. “There needs to be a way to convey some of these key points and for us to understand fairly quickly where we need to work most, where we need to focus our work.” 

Some board members also expressed concern about the results of a student wellbeing survey conducted during remote learning last year, which revealed that just 23% of students said they were “quite/extremely connected to adults” and 56% said “most/all teachers are really interested in how they are doing.” On the flip side, however, 96% of students said they agree or strongly agree that teachers treat them with respect and 91% said they are safe and comfortable with their teachers. 

Bavis responded to the board’s concerns by reminding members that learning online was a particularly lonely experience for many students, and it was most important to make sure that they were as comfortable as they could be during a difficult time for everyone. 

“Spending time on Zoom with the camera off is extraordinarily difficult both for the teacher and the student to build a connection,” Bavis said. “Right now, we’re not Zooming, we’re talking in the classrooms, we’re connecting, and we would like to see that number increase.” 

Duncan Agnew

Duncan Agnew covers Evanston public schools, affordable housing, City Hall and more for the RoundTable. He also writes long-form investigations, features and the morning email newsletter three times a...