District 65, 202 Boards of Education discuss collaboration with NU, literacy efforts in joint meeting


Daily file photo by Onyekaorise Chigbogwu

According to several students and parents, the dissatisfaction with the tardiness policy has been a persistent issue.

Rosie Newmark, Reporter

The Evanston Township High School District 202 and Evanston/Skokie School District 65 Boards of Education spoke about Northwestern’s district partnerships and literacy updates for both districts at a joint meeting Tuesday.

Several members from the Office of Community Education Partnerships at NU presented their efforts to engage with the local school districts. 

NU and District 65 Partnership Coordinator Jen Lewin said the University has supported local schools through various joint District 65 initiatives.

She cited programs like Learn and Imagine Together Through Theater, a collaboration for students interested in theatre; Tunepad, which uses music and problem solving through coding with students; and SportSense, which gives athletes feedback on their performance. 

Emily Ferrin, interim assistant dean at NU for community education partnerships, presented the Northwestern-Evanston Education Research Alliance, which studies equity and student success in Evanston. 

“Instead of traditional mosquito-type research, the research happens in the district and it’s co-designed so that it relates to actual problems of practice and district priorities,” Ferrin said. “It’s not just an inquiry that academics are interested in that doesn’t help locally.”

NU and ETHS Partnership Coordinator Kristen Perkins also discussed current projects by the NU-ETHS partnership office. 

Perkins said Kellogg School of Management students have organized trips to ETHS entrepreneurship classes. ETHS history department faculty have attended One Book One Northwestern events, she said, and undergraduate students have led computer skills workshops in Spanish for ETHS parents.

“Some folks might assume that the work of the high school partnership is about increasing an admissions pipeline for ETHS students to go to Northwestern,” Perkins said. “But the mission of the work is really about collaboration that benefits both NU and ETHS in ways that enhance the educational experience of all students.”

Several board members praised these partnership efforts, including District 202 Board President Pat Savage-Williams, who called it an “investment in our future.”

The assistant superintendents of curriculum and instruction for District 65 and District 202 respectively, Stacy Beardsley and Pete Bavis, also presented literacy updates on the students within each of their districts. Districts 65 and 202 formed a joint literacy plan in 2014, aiming for all high school seniors to become proficient readers within a 12-year cycle. 

Beardsley said literacy performance has largely remained steady since spring 2017. She also said data from the Illinois Assessment of Readiness shows 40.5% of District 65 met or exceeded grade level proficiency for English Language Arts. 

That marked an increase from 2021, but remains below pre-pandemic performance, Beardsley said. 

She said District 65 created a new agenda, aiming to strengthen educator knowledge and instructional practices for teaching literacy, improve the quality of literacy instructional materials for students in kindergarten through fifth grade and develop programs within and beyond the school day to support access to literacy. 

Meanwhile, Bavis presented data showing Black and Hispanic/Latino students at ETHS continue to face disparities in ELA scores compared to white students. He highlighted some of the district’s work to improve literacy this past year, including several community literacy events and a freshman reading support course.  

District 65 board member Joseph Hailpern expressed concern about the district’s initiatives to improve literacy rates, encouraging board members to add more urgency to the efforts.

“Parents, students and teachers alike tell us that they feel connected to the work, and they’re telling us year after year that they feel like our systems are weak in those areas,” Hailpern said. “That has to change before the test scores will change.”

Email: [email protected]

Twitter: @newmarkrose

Related Stories:

District 65 to emphasize skills like word recognition, phonics and language comprehension in literacy curriculum

Illinois advocates, students ask for better media literacy education as new law takes effect

District 65, District 202 Boards of Education discuss literacy, safety