Evanston schools round up

Chris Kirk

Though the banging of lockers and rustling of bags at Evanston schools may be hushed in the summer months, a different learning process continues in school board meetings, where educators learn of the performance of their students and try to find out how to improve it. Here’s what they learned, what they did and what they tried to do during the last few months.

– Educators found black high school students’ scores on a state standardized test plummeted from last year, with 39 percent meeting reading standards, down from 51 percent last year, and 37 percent meeting math standards, down from 46 percent last year.

However, last year saw an unusual improvement in black student performance, and the recent figures are still better than 2007.

Despite the plunge, overall scores tapered off only slightly due to slight improvements among disabled, disadvantaged, and white students, and major improvements among Hispanic students. Nevertheless, the racial achievement gap between whites and Hispanics and whites and blacks remains stark.

– Educators found Evanston Township High School students scored better than ever on the ACT, with a composite score of 23.5 – four-tenths of a point greater than last year and the highest score ever reported since the district started tracking results in 1972.

Students on average scored about 2.5 points higher than the national and statewide averages. In the same time period, the state average increased by one-tenth of a point and the national average remained the same.

– Educators, including the ETHS superintendant, suggested the city pass an ordinance that would officially outlaw persistent class truancy or intentional unauthorized absence from compulsory schooling, in July. Advocates said the ordinance would further discourage truancy, but a committee was skeptical, doubting the ordinance’s ability to reduce truancy and the city’s ability to enforce it. Committee members instructed educators to investigate other ways to reduce truancy.

– Evanston/Skokie School District 65 administrators evaluate teachers differently this fall after a June decision. Administrators now evaluate teachers in part based on how many underperforming students they bring up to performance standards during the year. The system aims to increase the percentage of students performing at or above standards with each successive year.

– District 65 officials passed a budget that predicts revenue will rebound after recession-related plunges and projects a surplus for next year despite heavier expenditures in all categories.

– Educators discussed the online information system District 65 parents will soon be able to use to keep tabs on their children’s conduct, attendance and performance.

[email protected]