ETHS shows increased student achievement in 2013-14 school year

Paige Leskin, City Editor

Data from the 2013-14 school year at Evanston Township High School showed record student achievement in many areas, including the highest amount of high scores on Advanced Placement exams and the lowest dropout rate in the school’s history.

ETHS staff reported an overview of student achievement Monday to the District 202 Board of Education. Through three different reports, the board heard presentations on key statistical indicators of school performance and Illinois state data, all of which show comprehensively positive results, D202 superintendent Eric Witherspoon said at the meeting.

“I really do want to give great kudos to our teachers, to our support staff, to the people who work in this building every day, who have just been literally pouring their hearts and souls into the achievement of the students in this school,” he said. “This takes a lot of people working really, really hard.”

ETHS had an increased four-year graduation rate, up to 88 percent, and had 71 percent of students enroll in postsecondary education, according to the state school report card. The dropout rate in the 2012-13 school year was 1.1 percent, the lowest in the school’s recorded history.

Since 2004, the amount of juniors and senior taking AP tests has increased from 36 percent to 64 percent, with a record number of students earning a score of 3 or above. The average ACT composite score of 23.6 is the second highest ever at ETHS, as well as higher than the averages in Illinois and the nation, according to the report on student achievement.

“When we look at these reports, if there are positives and good trends, I think it’s very important that we lift those up and take note of them,” Witherspoon said. “And likewise, that we also use this report to help point the direction where our challenges continue to be and where we should put our focus.

The achievement summary fell on the same night as a presentation on the Black Male Summit, a conscious decision by the staff, board president Gretchen Livingston said at Monday’s meeting. The summit, which took place at ETHS on Sept. 26, was held to support black students by encouraging them to stay in school and make them aware of available resources.

A connection lies between the school’s achievement numbers and its black students, Livingston said.

Black students made up about 30 percent of the more than 3,100 students who attended ETHS last year. The demographic averaged higher ACT scores than their counterparts both state and nationwide, according to the report on student achievement. At the same time, scores for black students on the PLAN test, given to sophomores each year, decreased from the previous year.

“It’s the number one goal here on the school board, the district goal is around student achievement,” Livingston said at Monday’s meeting. “There is so much good in (the report), but it also shines a light on the areas where we need to continue to do work.”

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