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November 19, 2019

10/16/2019 3:59:00 PM
School District 202 Board Hears Proposed Course Changes
By Mary Helt Gavin

Evanston Township High School may implement 84 changes to its curriculum next fall, pending Board approval. At the Oct. 7 District 202 School Board meeting, Pete Bavis, Assistant Superintendent for Curriculum and Instruction, presented the proposals to the Board.

“The purpose of the changes is to improve student achievement and to clarify prerequisites and pathways,” Dr. Bavis told the Board.

The Science Department has proposed a research course for summer school. In the Career and Technical Education (CTE) Department, there are proposed changes in prerequisites for two courses, which would clarify the engineering course sequence, Dr. Bavis said.

Women in the field of economics would be the focus of a proposed course in the History Department. The goal of the new course is to “address significant pipeline issues in the field of economics,” Dr. Bavis said. The History Department also proposes expanding the American Legal Systems course from one to two semesters.

The Math and CTE departments would like to create a way for students to pair their Introduction to Engineering Design course with a Geometry course.

An all-gender option for Freshman Physical Education, proposed by the PE/Wellness/Driver Education Department, comes “in response to a need articulated by students in support of their wellbeing,” Dr. Bavis wrote in an Oct. 3 memo presented to the Board at the Oct. 7 meeting.

Eighty of the proposed course changes would shift the class from a mixed-level model to a pathway-for-honors-credit model. Honors credit in these classes would be a result of students’ work; it would not depend on a student’s being “enrolled” in an honors class.

“They’re becoming honor students, rather than just being labeled honor students before the start of the course,” Dr. Bavis’s memo stated. “In this way, pathway to honors courses embrace what Stanford researcher Carol Dweck calls a ‘growth mindset.’”

Board member Gretchen Livingston said, “Pathway to honors is a better way to identify what we’re all about. I think we’ve demonstrated over these many years that this is a positive development.” She also said, “I applaud the PE change and the Economics change.”

Board President Pat Savage-Williams said she is “very excited about the pathway to honors.”

The process or making course changes is fivefold: Department chairs, along with teachers, make initial recommendations; the Chief Financial Officer reviews the proposals for their fiscal implications; the Assistant Superintendent for Curriculum and Instruction signs off on the proposals; teachers, department chairs and administrators provide input; and the Board has the ultimate decision.

The Board is likely to vote on the proposed changes at its Oct. 21 meeting.

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