The Evanston/Skokie School District 65 Board of Education voted 5-1 Monday night to end the practice of tracking for its eighth-grade algebra students, essentially to quash the perception that students of color are not as good at math as their white counterparts.
The change will occur only at one of the district’s three middle schools this coming school year, and administration officials predicted that the chosen school will be determined around July 15, primarily due to logistical concerns.
But Superintendent Paul Goren indicated that the other two schools would be brought in as soon as possible if it appears feasible to do so. Otherwise, full implementation of the plan will take effect with the 2018-2019 school year.
Board member Candance Chow cast the only “no” vote after expressing concerns about “process and timing.”
Presently, the top students take Algebra 1, while the struggling students take Algebra 8 at Haven, Chute, and Nichols middle schools. But both classes are the same, “both in scope and sequence,” said Goren.
However, the tracking tends to imply to the Algebra 8 students that they are somehow inferior to the Algebra 1 students, which is an impression that the district’s newly approved equity statement is trying to avert.
The research data indicates that tracking does not improve the math prospects of the top students, administration officials contend, based not just on research data from schools around the nation, but also upon results of the performance of students in the district’s two magnet schools, Kings Arts and Bessie Rhodes, where they are all taught in the same class.
Because all the board members appeared to be in favor of doing away with tracking, some of them questioned why only one middle school will implement the plan this year, instead of all three.
Assistant Superintendent Stacy Beardsley explained that there is too little time between now and the beginning of school in August to accomplish all the logistical steps necessary to implement the plan smoothly at all three middle schools.