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Test scores head in wrong direction at D65

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Three years into a five-year strategic plan to improve performance of all student demographic groups, Evanston School District 65 shows disappointing results, according to a report to be presented at tonight’s meeting of the school board.

The 2015 strategic plan set goals to increase the percentage of students meeting college readiness benchmarks in reading and math, decrease the percentage of students at or below the 25th percentile in reading and math, and increase the percentage of students making expected gains in reading or math compared to scores in the 2014-15 school year, based on the Measures of Academic Progress assessment.

According to the report, overall, and for most ethnic groups, students scored lower in reading in 2017-18 than they did in 2014-15. Fewer students met college readiness benchmarks in reading and a higher percentage were at or below the 25th percentile in reading.

The trend was similar for math, although there were fewer students at or below the 25th percentile in college readiness benchmarks for math and more students were making expected gains in math.

According to the report, District 65 administers six assessments to students, often more than once a year, though not all students take all tests:

  • Illinois Snapshot of Early Literacy, grades K-2  
  • Developmental Reading Assessment, grades K-3
  • Partnership for Assessment of Readiness for College and Careers, math and English Language Arts, grades 3-8
  • Dynamic Learning Maps
  • Illinois Science Assessment, grades 5 and 8  
  • Measures of Academic Progress, grades 3-8, reading and math

However, the administration is looking for other measures for assessing students and identifying areas for growth since “important skills and knowledge are not assessed on these assessments and standardized testing is inherently limited in its ability to depict holistic strengths and abilities of our students.”

The administration is reviewing available measures on Social Emotional Learning and is looking to the Northwestern Evanston Education Research Alliance, a data analysis partnership with ETHS and Northwestern University’s School of Education and Social Policy, to help identify predictors of college persistence.

The school board meets at the Joseph E. Hill Education Center, 1500 McDaniel Ave., at 7 p.m.

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