The new Evanston/Skokie District 65 School Superintendent Paul Goren will be a special guest tonight at a meeting of parents who formed their own group, called Math Matters, whose sole purpose is to help improve the program of mathematics instruction in the district’s schools.

The meeting will be held from 7 p.m. to 8:30 p.m. in the Community Meeting Room of the Evanston Public Library at Church Street and Orrington Avenue.

At its April 25 meeting, the District 65 Board discussed a memo from the administration outlining new procedures the district was implementing in placing students in math classes.

Following the meeting, members of the Math Matters group submitted to the administration their own review of the memo and requested a meeting between parents and the administration to discuss the relevant issues.

All of this occurred just before Superintendent Goren assumed his post on May 19. Therefore, it is expected that he will respond to many of the parents’ concerns at tonight’s meeting.

Parents who addressed the board during the public-comment portion of the April 25 meeting expressed concern about the fate of students whose comprehension of math concepts was so far ahead of the class that they were turned off by the classwork.

Others, however, were concerned about how the district would deal with students at the other end of the spectrum who had difficulty comprehending basic math concepts and felt lost in coping with class assignments.

Thus, the agenda for tonight’s meeting with the superintendent that lists “issues parents care about” specifically mentions differentiation within the classroom as well as grade-skipping and acceleration procedures.

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...
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6 Comments

Something I have never understood

Achievement in math has surpassed achievement in reading in District 65 for many years, but all the public attention is given to math.

Where is the parent group seeking improvement in reading?

bright kids with bad english instruction will still find great books to read and learn to love reading. Inadequate math instruction will make even bright kids not like math and then not gravitate toward STEM fields in college.

Math Teachers and Subjects—how much “real” support ?

If you look at ETHS Mathematics page you can find out very little about the education or other training of the faculty. One think you do note is several also coach sports. How many English or History teachers coach ? Math and probably Science are always treated as secondary fields [at best] and you can always find something "meaningful" for them to do—coach.

I looked at the math faculty of my small town high school and noted most of the math teachers also coach—yet they don't even offer calculus—not even AP ! I then looked at larger towns surrounding it [80,000-170,000] and then some of the "highly rated" high schools in Cook and Dupage. Same story there—math teachers double as coaches. For many schools I could not even find Calculus as a course. I'm sure ETHS and [some] larger schools offer Calculus through tutoring by a willing teacher, send the students to a community or other college or look at AP [if offered] as an equivalent or students band together and get help elsewhere including teaching themselves. From occasional articles I do see where there are outstanding ETHS students in STEM and STEM projects—but guess at the percent of those stories to sports ! How many articles do you see about ETHS grads who make a name for themselves in Math/Science; Math Olympiad, Intel/Westinghouse winners ? How about Leonard Mlodinow who wrote a book about his post-doc with Richard Feynman and co-authored books with Stephen Hawkings ?

It shows the school's and population priorities—no wonder it is hard to get kids interested in STEM. But if math and science are treated as "co" teaching activities with sports and a range of courses is not even listed, it shows how the schools "really" view them—and why it will be hard to get them to go far with STEM.

This is not to put down those hard working ETHS [and lower grades] teachers who give and give, but it is hard to find out who they are and what they do—a large part because of general community interest who are much more concerned with the games they won.

Are you saying that ETHS does not pay enough attention to Math and Science because the teachers don't coach sports?!

ETHS math and science teachers devote themselves to teaching math and science. Most of them have at least Master's degrees in their subjects and many have PhDs. ETHS students consistently win awards for math and science and the school celebrates those achievements on their website (e.g.http://www.eths.k12.il.us/eths_state_math_may2014/?Archive=y&pg=2).

ETHS students have opportunities to take many AP math and science courses and those who are able can take math classes at Oakton or Northwestern.

I don't know what evidence you have that ETHS values sports over STEM. I suggest you check your facts.

D65 allots 172 minutes for language arts and only 25 for science and 50-60 for math on a daily basis.

Foundation65 only focuses on literacy – they have no funding priorities for STEM.

New research shows that early number sense has a greater impact long-term than early literacy. Kids can compute and understand math before they can read and write.

What I have learned from this discussion is that math has fewer resources (both time and money) and STILL District 65 students achieve at a higher level in math than in reading. So it still appears that something is not right about public attention to math. It at least looks like we are getting more bang for the buck in math, so I am still not sure why parents are not attending to reading.

If it is true that bright kids don't need reading instruction (which I question) , but they do need math instruction, why have the two district's embarked on a joint literacy goal?

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Something I have never understoodAchievement in math has surpassed achievement in reading in District 65 for many years, but all the public attention is given to math.

Where is the parent group seeking improvement in reading?

bright kids with bad englishbright kids with bad english instruction will still find great books to read and learn to love reading. Inadequate math instruction will make even bright kids not like math and then not gravitate toward STEM fields in college.

Math Teachers and Subjects—how much “real” support ?If you look at ETHS Mathematics page you can find out very little about the education or other training of the faculty. One think you do note is several also coach sports. How many English or History teachers coach ? Math and probably Science are always treated as secondary fields [at best] and you can always find something "meaningful" for them to do—coach.

I looked at the math faculty of my small town high school and noted most of the math teachers also coach—yet they don't even offer calculus—not even AP ! I then looked at larger towns surrounding it [80,000-170,000] and then some of the "highly rated" high schools in Cook and Dupage. Same story there—math teachers double as coaches. For many schools I could not even find Calculus as a course. I'm sure ETHS and [some] larger schools offer Calculus through tutoring by a willing teacher, send the students to a community or other college or look at AP [if offered] as an equivalent or students band together and get help elsewhere including teaching themselves. From occasional articles I do see where there are outstanding ETHS students in STEM and STEM projects—but guess at the percent of those stories to sports ! How many articles do you see about ETHS grads who make a name for themselves in Math/Science; Math Olympiad, Intel/Westinghouse winners ? How about Leonard Mlodinow who wrote a book about his post-doc with Richard Feynman and co-authored books with Stephen Hawkings ?

It shows the school's and population priorities—no wonder it is hard to get kids interested in STEM. But if math and science are treated as "co" teaching activities with sports and a range of courses is not even listed, it shows how the schools "really" view them—and why it will be hard to get them to go far with STEM.

This is not to put down those hard working ETHS [and lower grades] teachers who give and give, but it is hard to find out who they are and what they do—a large part because of general community interest who are much more concerned with the games they won.

What’s your point?Are you saying that ETHS does not pay enough attention to Math and Science because the teachers don't coach sports?!

ETHS math and science teachers devote themselves to teaching math and science. Most of them have at least Master's degrees in their subjects and many have PhDs. ETHS students consistently win awards for math and science and the school celebrates those achievements on their website (e.g.http://www.eths.k12.il.us/eths_state_math_may2014/?Archive=y&pg=2).

ETHS students have opportunities to take many AP math and science courses and those who are able can take math classes at Oakton or Northwestern.

I don't know what evidence you have that ETHS values sports over STEM. I suggest you check your facts.

Math and science are second to language artsD65 allots 172 minutes for language arts and only 25 for science and 50-60 for math on a daily basis.

Foundation65 only focuses on literacy – they have no funding priorities for STEM.

New research shows that early number sense has a greater impact long-term than early literacy. Kids can compute and understand math before they can read and write.

So new questiosWhat I have learned from this discussion is that math has fewer resources (both time and money) and STILL District 65 students achieve at a higher level in math than in reading. So it still appears that something is not right about public attention to math. It at least looks like we are getting more bang for the buck in math, so I am still not sure why parents are not attending to reading.

If it is true that bright kids don't need reading instruction (which I question) , but they do need math instruction, why have the two district's embarked on a joint literacy goal?