District 65 report details testing achievement, gaps
Updated: February 19, 2013 12:32PM
EVANSTON — The lowest scoring students in Evanston-Skokie District 65 are “knocking it out of the park” in growth, but gender gaps are growing and higher scoring students are not maintaining their superior scores on achievement tests.
Those were among the observations by the District 65 Board of Education and staff last month, as administrators presented a sweeping 200-page report on accountability and student achievement from 2006-12.
Superintendent Hardy Murphy agreed the district can do better developing higher scoring students, but praised the “gold mine of data” in the report.
“This data is saying something to us and giving us some direction to try to come up with some solutions,” Murphy said. “It’s obvious to me that the farther you go down the distribution, the more powerful the impact of our interventions has been.”
Under the federal mandate of Adequate Yearly Progress, about 88 percent of all students met or exceeded standards in reading and more than 92 percent met or exceeded standards in math in 2012, according to the report.
The percentage of students meeting or exceeding AYP increased every year from 2006 to 2011 in math and reading, the report said. That number dropped slightly in 2012, it said.
In 2011, African-American and Hispanic students achieved the “milestone” of equaling or exceeding the mean test score for all students in Illinois, Murphy said.
“This was a notable accomplishment not commonplace in the achievement literature,” he wrote in a memo summarizing the report for the board.
While achievement gaps in other demographics appear to be closing, girls appear to be widening their gap in achievement over boys, Board Member Richard Rykhus said.
“That’s not a gap we look at a lot, but it must be part of our conversation,” Rykhus said. “Is there something different we can do? Examining this issue would be helpful to me as we move forward.”
Among the highest achieving students, many enter a school year demonstrating college and career readiness, but fewer than half maintain those score levels, Board Member Eileen Budde said.
Even in the few areas where District 65 students start below state averages, eventually they exceed them in almost every category, Board Member Tracy Quattrocki said.
“In apples-to-apples categories, we do better in all categories most of the time,” Quattrocki said.