Evanston/Skokie District 65 Schools Superintendent Hardy Murphy has advised parents that they can expect their students to do more writing this year as part of their educational experience.

In a letter sent this week to parents of students in the district’s kindergarten through eighth grade classes, Murphy said that “in our second year of emphasis upon writing as a way to enhance literacy and critical thinking skills, I believe you will see more writing in your child’s learning experiences than in previous years.”

He noted that Illinois schools have adopted the Common Core State Standards that were developed as a project of the National Governors Association in 2009, in an effort to improve the effectiveness of education nationwide.

All but a handful of states have adopted the standards, and the assessment that goes along with the standards will upgrade the Illinois Standards Achievement Test in monitoring student performance.

Murphy said that the state has warned that the new assessments are likely to indicate a significant drop in performance when compared with the former ISAT scores, as the new assessment sets higher expectations for students and schools.

At the District 65 Board meeting Monday night, the superintendent referenced the state assessments and said “we are entering a new era in public education”  and that the district will be dealing with a more challenging academic environment for its students that will be reflected in much higher expectations.

“We have several efforts under way to help our students experience success with these more rigorous standards and assessments,” Murphy declared in his letter to parents.

Part of that effort, he said, is to change the district’s appraisal system of its teachers.

Half of a teacher’s rating, he said, is based on the professional practice of teaching as defined in the Danielson Framework for Teaching. The other half is based upon student performance.

“This year,” Murphy said, “the academic growth of students at grade level and above, including College and Career Readiness as well as those below grade level, are being used to determine this rating. This approach ensures that the academic growth of every child across the achievement spectrum is important in our appraisal system.”

The first report cards for this school year, he added, are being sent home to parents on Dec. 13.

“Please take the time to review the report card with your child,” Murphy advised. “It can make a difference in the academic success that your child experiences during the school year.”

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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