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.

Join the Conversation

3 Comments

  1. Who has failed whom ??
    I find the title to this article misleading and disturbing. Has D202 failed because the goal to reduce the number of D’s and F’s received by Hispanics and Blacks by 10% was not achieved? Is this a Board issue, an Administration issue, a teacher issue, a student issue, or a parent/guardian issue?
    The “easy” solution is to lower the grade scale like the Illinois State Board of Education did with the ISAT test to “show progress” as more students now “meet” state standards. However, in the end, it is those students most in need that are harmed and our country overall is negatively impacted. Read the recent reports published by Advance Illinois, titled “We Can Do Better” :

    http://www.advanceillinois.org/pages/we_can_do_better/77.php

    or the recent McKinsey report about “The Economic Impact of the Achievement Gap in America’s Schools” :

    http://www.mckinsey.com/clientservice/socialsector/achievementgap.asp

    President Obama has clearly outlined education as a key national priority. His story, and the story of his wife, Michelle, demonstrate the opportunities available to all citizens in our country who work hard and earn an outstanding education. Students who expect to be given an education will be disappointed. Parents and guardians who think schools are responsible for giving their children an education will likewise be disappointed. All students should be given an opportunity to earn a great education in Evanston schools, with disadvantaged children being provided additional resources that can’t or won’t be provided at home. However, when only 34% of students attend AM support at ETHS, how can students expect to improve their performance? Who’s responsibility is it that students go to school, do their homework and attend extra help sessions? Who has failed whom?
    P.S. I am not a teacher or affiliated with D202 or D65; just a concerned citizen

  2. Parental control
    I agree. At the core is the responsibility of the parents to get their kids excited or interested about learning/school. I am tired of parents dropping their kids at the doorsteps of schools and expecting the teachers and administrators to do it all.

    Leading by example is the best way to teach kids the virtues of hard work and determination.

  3. new stats on rise in Ds and Fs
    When the HS did away with the regular humanities classes without an honors contingent, the students were all lumped together in the mixed honors classes and the teachers are obviosuly overwhelmed by their students’ differences in academic preparation for class material. The AM support sessions are mobbed with students as it is, and the teachers often don’t show up due to scheduled meetings and out of school meetings as well. Also they did away with homeroom which was a way for students to get some emotional support and to stay in communication with the school in general. My son said over 150 juniors are not pictured in the yearbook. Why? Noone told them when the pictures were taken! The announcements are given when many are in gym and they can’t hear various things like when to show up for the practice ACTS which my son missed by 5 minutes (after being sent to the wrong room)and had to miss and I had to pay for him to make up! This year as a senior my son will have a new schedule for the 4th time in 4 years! The point is these students need more than rigor! They need support,consistency, guidance and good teaching in smaller, more motivating environments. The mixed honors science program is a joke. They give the tests that the separate honors track take, but they don’t present the material in class. The students have to teach it to themselves which unless you have a brainy mom or dad who remembers hs biology is pretty tough to do! Most of the advanced math students already have established a high GPA before they get to ETHS and continue to stay ahead of students starting hs work freshman year. Thus the math students who were bussed over from their middle schools starting in 7th grade (if they were pushy enough)rule the top 10% even though believe it or not, math is not the only measure of a person’s intelligence or ability to succeed. The north evanston kids rule the high school and everyone knows it. Their parents know the ropes and push their kids to make the right choices in 6th grade. The rest of us just try to figure it out as we go.

Leave a comment
The goal of our comment policy is to make the comments section a vibrant yet civil space. Treat each other with respect — even the people you disagree with. Whenever possible, provide links to credible documentary evidence to back up your factual claims.

Your email address will not be published.