Evanston Township High School lags behind its neighbors in meetilng the federally-defined Adequate Yearly Progress standards, however it has one of the largest and most diverse student populations in the area.
Unlike nearby Glenbrook North, Glenbrook South, New Trier Township, and Niles North, ETHS and Niles West failed to make AYP for the 2006-2007 school year, according to results from the Illinois State Board of Education.
But Judith Levinson, ETHS director of research, evaluation and assessment says that it’s hard to find a school that is comparable to ETHS in demographics and population.
"The problem is we are unique. There are very few districts with our demographic," she said. "The schools that are making AYP most of them don’t have subgroups. There are a sprinkling that do."
Statewide, the number of schools not making AYP has increased. In the 2005-2006 school year, 679 schools were not making AYP; in 2006-2007, 896 schools didn’t make AYP.
Similarly the number of high schools failing to meet AYP is increasing. In 2005-2006, 221 high schools did not make AYP compared with 328 in 2006-2007, according to state results.
At ETHS 65.6 percent of 11th graders met or exceeded standards for the Prairie State Achievement Examination in 2006-2007; 84.9 percent for Glenbrook North; 79 percent for Glenbrook South; 86.7 percent for New Trier; 66.2 percent for Niles North; and 63.7 percent for Niles West.
ETHS ranks 27th out of the 146 high schools in Cook County in PSAE scores, according to the Chicago Tribune 2007 Illinois school report card database.
AYP is based on these scores as well as other factors like ACT scores and graduation rates.
In an effort to improve test scores at ETHS the administration has instituted many programs including a focused preparatory class for those on the cusp of meeting the standards, improved curriculum, and a revised literacy initiative, Ms. Levinson said.
In terms of student population, ETHS has one of the largest enrollments compared to surrounding districts with 3041 students. Only New Trier has a larger population with 3105 students.
Glenbrook South has 2684 students, Niles West has 2575, Niles North has 2187, and Glenbrook North has 2089, according to the state.
ETHS has failed to meet AYP five years in a row, forcing the District 202 school board to re-evaluate the structure of the school.
Another year of failing results will trigger penalties that could force the school to reopen as a public charter school, replace all or most of its staff, enter into a contract with a private management company, or implement another restructuring program with fundamental reforms.
The district has until February to choose one of these options or develop its own plan and submit it to the state.
In addition to ETHS, 65 other elementary, middle and high schools statewide have failed to meet AYP five years in a row and are in the restructuring phase mandated by the federal No Child Left Behind Act. Currently 267 elementary, middle and high schools are in the process of implementing the restructuring plan compared to 138 schools last year.
Niles North Township High School like ETHS was placed in the corrective action category in 2005-2006, which meant it needed to implement one or more of a list of corrective actions that included curriculum, governmental, and structural change. Unlike ETHS, Niles North made AYP and did not advance to the restructuring phase. If Niles makes AYP again next year, it will be removed from the corrective action category.
ETHS has a large student population, but also a diverse one. In order to make AYP it had to have 55 percent of all students in each subgroup meet standards in both math and reading last year.
"The larger you are and the more diversity you have the more ways you have to potentially not make AYP," Superintendent Eric Witherspoon has said. "You must make it in every subgroup and in each area–math and reading–in order to make AYP."
This year at ETHS only white students and students with disabilities made AYP in reading. In math white students made AYP, while black, Hispanic, disabled and economically disadvantaged students did not.
At ETHS 47.4 percent of its students are white; 36.6 percent are black; 10.3 percent are Hispanic; 3.2 percent are Asian/Pacific Islander; and 2.5 percent are multi-racial. In addition, 34.1 percent of it’s students are low-income.
In comparison, Glenbrook North High School’s students are 82.7 percent white; .7 percent black; 2.4 percent Hispanic; 13.5 percent Asian; and .8 percent multi-racial. Only 1.8 percent of the population is low-income, according to the Chicago Tribune database.
At New Trier Township High School 88 percent of the students are white; .7 percent black; 2.1 percent Hispanic; 8 percent Asian; .3 percent Native American; .9 percent multiracial. Low-income students are 2.1 percent of the population.
Niles North High School is more diversified with 50.9 percent white students; 6.6 percent black; 9.3 percent Hispanic; 31.5 percent Asian; .1 percent Native American; and 1.6 percent multi-racial. Last school year 17.5 percent of its student population was low-income.
Ms. Levinson said that schools like New Trier and Glenbrook North don’t have the same population of subgroups that ETHS has. Out of the data from schools in the metropolitan area that includes schools from Hoffman Estates to Libertyville, Ms. Levinson estimated that 14 districts that made AYP had no subgroups at all and about 44 high schools in that sampling aren’t making AYP.