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D202 fails to boost minorities’ grades

District 202 has failed in its goal to reduce the total number of D’s and F’s blacks and Hispanics received at Evanston Township High School by at least 10 percent last school year, according to report presented at Monday’s school board meeting.

In fact, in many subject areas students earned more D’s and F’s in the 2007/2008 year than they earned the year before. Generally, however, the percentage of students earning D’s and F’s is smaller than it was four years ago.

Director of Research, Evaluation and Assessment Judith Levinson, who presented the report, took some heat from board member Mary Wilkerson for not including in the report ideas to help achieve the district’s goal.

“It’s not enough to say that we implemented these strategies, and it didn’t work,” Wilkerson said. “You don’t want to keep changing – you want to give things time to work – but you certainly don’t want to keep doing the same thing if you’re not making any progress.”

Superintendant Eric Witherspoon told the board that sometimes strategies do not need to be changed but rather more fully implemented.

Other board members questioned the value of the data.

“The statistics alone aren’t really going to tell us anything,” board member Mark Metz said. “These numbers are all over the map. We’re dealing statistically with a very small sample.”

Board member Deborah Graham speculated that the increase in poor grades could be a factor of tougher grading scales. Levinson pointed to tougher grading scales that have been adopted in English classes, which have seen the greatest rise in D’s and F’s.

Levinson said, however, that she could not be sure, and there could be multiple factors that account for it.

Witherspoon said he would put the data in front of teachers’ eyes and suggested only they could make true sense of it.

“When our teachers return, we’ll give this data to our teachers, those closest to the situation, who are most capable of analyzing, who have the deepest knowledge of what’s going on in their own courses and their own departments,” he said.

The district partially succeeded at another goal aimed to increase the percentage of 9th grade black and Latino students enrolled in honors level classes by 10 percent.

The goal was met for Hispanic students in the English and History, World Languages and Science subject areas and for black students in the English/History area.

However, it was not met for black students in World Languages and Science. In these subject areas, enrollment in honors classes actually dropped by 5.3 percent and 24.7 percent respectively.

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