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Middle school geometry to stay at ETHS

District 65 school board members decided Monday night to keep a prized geometry program for advanced middle school students at Evanston Township High School.

Although no formal vote took place at the working board meeting, members Katie Bailey, Bonnie Lockhart, Mary Rita Luecke, Jerome Summers, and Keith Terry said the program should stay at the high school.

Currently 70 middle school students travel to ETHS for a 7:15 a.m. geometry class, for which they earn high school credit.

District 65 administrators proposed moving the class to the middle schools, because the scheduling forces some students to miss band and orchestra practice. In addition, there are transportation costs and disruption in school schedules.

But members of the public spoke against the change.

"I would strongly urge you to do everything you can to keep this course at ETHS," said John Benson, a math teacher at ETHS, amid applause from the audience.

"We have changed lives with this class and we will continue to do so," he said. "I know that bright kids thrive when you challenge them, and we challenge them. Let’s not diminish our kids’ education because of logistics."

The board directed the administration to explore options that will accommodate students’ schedules while keeping the program at the high school.

Board members also reviewed middle school math programs, including Everyday Math Compacted, which covers similar content to established math classes but uses a non-traditional approach.

The program is more student-centered and more hands-on than the traditional Pre-Algebra I course, Suzanne Farrand, curriculum coordinator for the district, said.

After the pilot program showed evidence of kids performing at high levels, the district implemented Everyday Math at every middle school.

A student’s placement in Everyday Math or Pre-Algebra I is determined by standardized test scores, teacher recommendations, and a student interest and motivation survey, according to the district.

"What parents get in the mail is a letter with a placement decision. They do not get any information about the placement decision," said Mindy Wallis, who has middle-school aged children.

"We are not offered the opportunity to make decisions about our children’s placement, we are simply given a placement and perhaps we are allowed to have a conversation, perhaps not."

No decisions were made regarding the current math programs, but the district will continue evaluating the success of the curriculum.

"I think one of the things that would help is providing the data to parents," Ms. Bailey said. "I think parents have a right to the data."

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