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ETHS takes steps to engage black male students

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For years, Evanston Township High School has struggled with what officials describe as an “achievement gap” between white and African-American students. The school recently held a Black Male Summit to help close that gap.

At a meeting Monday night, the ETHS District 202 School Board heard a report on the results of that summit, including a survey of the respondents that gave it good reviews.

It is not that black students are not among the high-achievers at the school, the board was told, as one in four black males have made the honor roll this school year, and nearly one in three black male students have met or exceeded standards in reading on the Prairie State Achievement Exam.

The problem is that this performance is substantially less than that of the student body as a whole, with 55 percent making the honor roll and 67 percent meeting or exceeding reading standards on the PSAE.

The daylong summit, held during school hours, attracted 412 students out of the school’s 507 who are identified as black or multiracial with black listed as one of their identities, according to Assistant Superintendent/Principal Marcus Campbell.

Some 344 responded to a survey on the meeting, on which 73 percent rated the summit as “excellent,” and 22 percent as “very good,” Campbell reported.

He added, in a memo to Superintendent Eric Witherspoon, that “we hope to use this as a model to address issues facing other constituent groups in our school.”

The board was effusive in its praise of the program.

Mark Metz said the administration and board should be congratulated "for having the courage and vision to make such a bold move."

Bill Geiger said that, as a result of the summit, "young black men are now an asset for Evanston."

And Doug Holt said that such a well-planned and well-executed event "brings credit to the school."

Charles Bartling

A resident of Evanston since 1975, Chuck Bartling holds a master’s degree in journalism from Northwestern University and has extensive experience as a reporter and editor for daily newspapers, radio stations and business-oriented magazines.

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