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D65 report calls for ‘sense of urgency’ to address needs of marginalized students

Evanston%2FSkokie+School+District+65+Superintendent+Paul+Goren+speaks+at+a+meeting.+Goren+said+that+the+district+needs+to+focus+on+student+achievement+and+growth.
Evanston/Skokie School District 65 Superintendent Paul Goren speaks at a meeting. Goren said that the district needs to focus on student achievement and growth.

Evanston/Skokie School District 65 Superintendent Paul Goren speaks at a meeting. Goren said that the district needs to focus on student achievement and growth.

Allie Goulding/The Daily Northwestern

Allie Goulding/The Daily Northwestern

Evanston/Skokie School District 65 Superintendent Paul Goren speaks at a meeting. Goren said that the district needs to focus on student achievement and growth.

Ryan Wangman, Assistant City Editor

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An Evanston/Skokie School District 65 equity report found a lack of racial literacy, a need for more multicultural education and called for “urgency” in addressing marginalized students and families.

The report, prepared by independent consultant Corrie Wallace, was presented to the District 65 school board at a meeting Monday. The report builds on an equity statement drafted by the district last year that worked “to acknowledge racial and cultural biases” and bridge the student achievement gap.

The district last year had a 48 percent composite achievement gap between black and white students, and a 41 percent gap between Hispanic and white students, according to the Illinois Report Card.

“There is a persistent and unacceptable opportunity gap for students of color in District 65,” the report said. “The District’s leadership team attributes the racial predictability of achievement and disciplinary outcomes to institutional racism, a huge problem that can only start to be solved by acknowledging the history of white supremacy in Evanston/Skokie Schools.”

At the meeting, Wallace said she went on “equity walks” that included 20 school visits to review equity in the district. She also conducted focus groups and talked to about 1,000 students and more than 500 parents, teachers, support staff and administrators.

As a school district, Wallace said it was important to treat students in accordance with their identities so they can achieve their goals. Wallace, who has two children who have gone through District 65, said creating the equity report was “very important” to her.

“Equity really is about fairness and justice and people getting what they need and deserve in order to reach their full potential,” Wallace said at the meeting.

As a result of that research, Wallace said she recommended increasing the level of racial literacy, social emotional learning and culturally relevant teaching throughout the district. She also proposed the creation of “welcoming spaces,” as well as the creation of a plan to address racial representation of teachers.

As of 2016, about 13 percent of the district’s teachers are black, down from 17.4 percent roughly a decade ago, according to the report.

Wallace also suggested the district develop a plan to implement her recommendations by Oct. 31.

“Moving forward involves having this educational ecosystem in balance,” Wallace said. “Where our students are at the center and that we as adults, regardless of our titles, (are) working together to create a more equitable learning environment.”

Wallace stressed the importance of providing resources to an economically and racially diverse student body. Black and Latinx students comprise roughly half of the district’s enrollment, and low-income students make up 38 percent of enrollment, according to board documents.

At the next policy committee meeting, the district will review a new version of an equity policy that the board has been working on for several months, district superintendent Paul Goren said at Monday’s meeting.

Goren said to measure the success of equity initiatives, the district needs to focus on student achievement and growth.

The report comes at a time when the district is planning for next year, Goren said. Over the next few months, he added, the board will plan its implementation of the report’s recommendations and prepare a response.

“It’s an important moment for all of us as a board and an administration to dive into the report as presented by Corrie and to really look at some of the recommendations,” Goren said.

Email: [email protected]
Twitter: @ryanwangman

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