At Monday’s Evanston Township High School District 202 School Board meeting, Assistant Superintendent for Curriculum and Instruction Pete Bavis and Director of Research, Evaluation and Assessment Carrie Levy presented the latest round of standardized testing data released through the Illinois School Report Card. The latest data was from the April 2021 SAT taken by ETHS juniors, with comparisons to the performance of ETHS juniors on the same test in 2019. 

Bavis prefaced the presentation by noting that the day students took the test was the first time any of them had returned to the building in-person since the beginning of the pandemic, which made the entire experience particularly unusual and stressful.

“Those students attended class remotely for over a year. It was also the first time that everyone had to experience our COVID safety protocols, so experiencing COVID safety protocols in a standardized testing environment is difficult enough,” Bavis said. “Having that be your first experience at the high school in over a year makes that doubly difficult.”

According to the data released through the state report card and presented to the school board, 89% of all ETHS juniors took the SAT in April 2021 after the school could not administer the test in 2020 due to the pandemic.

In total, as shown in the above chart, 52.8% of the students who took the test met or exceeded Illinois college readiness benchmarks on the English/Language Arts portion of the SAT, which is actually the exact same percentage as the last time ETHS students took the SAT in 2019. Those benchmarks are determined by the Illinois State Board of Education and define what constitutes a “college and career ready” student.

Statewide data for 2021 is not yet available, but 37% of all Illinois 11th graders met or exceeded the state standards in English in 2019.

When breaking the data down demographically, 77% of white students, 19% of Black students, 29% of Hispanic students, 19% of low-income students, 17% of students with individualized education programs (IEPs) and 42% of students with disabilities met or exceeded those state-readiness standards on the 2021 English/Language Arts section of the SAT. The largest deviations from 2019 scores occurred among Black students, with 4.4% fewer meeting or exceeding standards, and among students with disabilities, with a 7.2% increase in the number of students meeting or exceeding standards.

On the math portion of the exam, 47.2% of students met or exceeded the Illinois benchmarks, compared with 50.4% in 2019. Statewide in 2019, 35% of 11th graders met or exceeded Illinois math readiness standards.

Overall, 67% of white students, 16% of Black students, 31% of Hispanic students, 17% of low-income students, 12% of students with IEPs and 34% of students with disabilities met or exceeded state standards for math. The largest declines from 2019 to 2021 occurred within the white and Black student subgroups. Meanwhile, Hispanic students, students with IEPs and students with disabilities all experienced a near 4% uptick in the number who met or exceeded state benchmarks for math.

Bavis added that for the first time in several years, the district is working on putting together data on freshmen and sophomore standardized test scores on the PSAT (as the Preliminary Standardized Aptitutde Test is called), so the school can more closely monitor the progress of grade levels that entered high school during the pandemic. 

“Our teachers continue to rise to the occasion, our seniors did well relative to others, we’re committed to monitoring progress and we’re really going to dig down and address that variation by subgroup because there are some achievement disparities that have been exacerbated, clearly,” Bavis said. 

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...