D65 and D202 joint committee calls for stronger literacy goals

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Daily file photo by Onyekaorise Chigbogwu

Evanston Township High School. During Thursday’s joint committee meeting, District 65 and District 202 leaders prepared for a discussion about updating their joint literacy goal for students in the community.

Olivia Alexander, Assistant City Editor

Evanston/Skokie School District 65 and Evanston Township High School/District 202 educators emphasized the importance of deeper literacy goals for students in the community during a joint committee meeting Thursday. 

The districts’ joint literacy goal, set in 2014, aims for 100% of students to be proficient readers by the time they reach senior year. The goal is to achieve this in 12 years, to allow the district time to follow an entire cohort of students’ progress as they pass through the school system. District representatives said incomplete data from the pandemic years has made it difficult to determine how to improve rates in the future. 

Pete Bavis, District 202 assistant superintendent of curriculum and instruction, said ETHS does not have literacy data for the classes of 2023 and 2024, who should have tested during the height of the pandemic. The only data available is from the classes of 2021 and 2022 before the pandemic, he said. 

“Here’s the reality of where we are today. It’s not going to look as good, right?” Bavis said. “The numbers are going to be lower. The question is ‘What are we doing with those numbers?’” 

Bavis said the boards need to come together to have a discussion about the data he and District 65 Assistant Superintendent of Curriculum and Instruction Stacy Beardsley’s team were able to put together. 

Beardsley said the district will present the class of 2025 data from the spring MAP and the fall STAR exams. She said the teams can expect a graph showing the overall percentages for meeting goals on the MAP and STAR tests before the pandemic with a break in the data and an indication of where students are now post-pandemic.

“That can lead us into a conversation of what our new reality is and where our main focus is,” Beardsley said. “That’s where our collaborative conversations are.” 

During the last joint board meeting in October, representatives from both districts also voiced the need for more detailed information on literacy rates before trying to implement new goals.

District 65 Board Member Sergio Hernandez said “students are more than literacy scores,” and he hopes the districts will take a more holistic approach to supporting their growth. District 65 Board Member Soo La Kim encouraged the district to consider what other skills or aptitudes, beyond literacy, to support. She asked the committee to consider what other areas the district should focus on to ensure literacy goals are met. 

Committee members agreed that goals and strategies around literacy should be adjusted due to the challenges students have faced during the pandemic. District 202 Board President Pat Savage-Williams said when the two boards meet, they often have the same discussion and make little headway. 

“We’re doing the same thing, and we’re getting the same results,” Savage-Williams said. “Is this what we want to do? Let’s look at the needs and think about a different, more updated and more relevant, reasonable approach that will capture the needs of this community.” 

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