After reviewing a 43-page report that shows a lack of improvement by many students in reading and math, the Evanston District 65 School Board Monday night asked for more data and information to evaluate district programs and initiatives.
“This is a clarion call to all district 65 educators,” said Superintendent Paul Goren in introducing the report. “I can assure you that educators used the material in the report over the summer to drive planning for the 2018-19 school year.”
“I’m most concerned about black and Hispanic students at or below the 25th percentile,” he added.
Board member Anya Tanyavutti repeated a request that data about students with Individualized Education Plans and English Language Learners be disaggregated by race.
“If we want to see how children are doing, we need to see the intersection between racial identity and students with IEPs, students with free and reduced lunch and ELL students,” she said. “I asked a year ago. I still don’t have it.”
“It’s difficult to do public reporting using multiple factors without unintentionally violating a student’s privacy,” said Kylie Klein, director of research, accountability and data. With enough detail “someone could identify a specific student.”
Tanyavutti responded that she understands reporting data at a school level might be a problem, but “I don’t understand why we don’t do it at the district level.”
Sunith Kartha, board president, agrees. “We need to understand how race plays into IEP and ELL challenges at the district level.”
Tanyavutti also asked for data showing whether specific groups or classes have improved over time. “How have different cohorts performed since the strategic plan was adopted?”
Board members were also frustrated by their inability to use the data to analyze programs and initiatives.
“This report is telling us what we already knew,” said board member Joseph Hailpern. “I can probably tell you what we’ll see next year plus or minus a data point.”
He said he wants to know what’s working so it can be replicated. “Which schools are knocking it out of the park and how do we multiply it?”
“Are there victories out there, which is why we’re staying the course?” asked Hailpern. “I assume there are wins out there. Find a way to tell us.”
Board member Sergio Hernandez agreed. “ELL students are doing double the work — learning two languages and the academic material.”
“We need to celebrate victories,” he said. “Find a way to expand the way we measure student success.”
“Students are growing everyday. We’re not seeing the larger picture and the whole child,” he said. “I’m tired of seeing these reports and hearing complaints from the community.”