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Read original emails and correspondence on Hawley's Winnetka D36 resignation

Timeline: September 29, 2015: Dr. Hawley makes a presentation to the D36 School Board that states she cannot perform longitudinal analysis that had been planned to be used for review of the TERC math curriculum. Dr. Hawley had previously presented rosy picture of D36 performance at odds with parent analysis which showed Winnetka to have the lowest academic achievement of all districts that feed into New Trier high school. September 29 & October 16: Parents email board to complain about misleading presentation and explanation by Dr. Hawley. Week of November 8: Dr. Hawley put on administrative leave; parents Scullion and Grow invited into office to meet with Superintendent Tricia Kocanda and School Board Member Kendra Wallace. The Superintendent and School Board Member confirm that yes, the data that the data Dr. Hawley presented was wrong and, contrary to what Hawley reported, nothing was preventing her from giving the Board three years’ of longitundinal data as she was supposed to do. They informed us they would make an apology to the Board and community at the November 17, 2015 Board Meeting. November 15, 2015: A public verbal apology is made to the community about the misleading data. [Board minutes are no longer online, so I do not have a written record.] December 9, 2015: The Superintendent announces to the community via a newsletter that Dr. Hawley resigned her position. “Dr. Alison Hawley has decided to pursue other educational opportunities and recently resigned from her role as Director of Curriculum, Instruction, and Assessment. The District is grateful for her dedication and leadership. The position will be posted under the title Director of Teaching and Learning, and applicants are being solicited nationwide. It is anticipated that this new administrator will start on July 1, 2016.” December 15, 2015: A large group of parents organized to demand transparency and response to low academic performance at the D36 Board meeting. Below are the emails sent by parents (Jen Grow and Katie Scullion) to the D36 School Board pointing out problems with Dr. Hawley’s School board presentation in September 2015. EMAIL #1 From: Katie Scullion Sent: Tuesday, September 29, 2015 4:59 PM To: Betsy Owens (; ''; ''; ''; ''; ''; '' Subject: STAR data - clarification on longintudinal analysis To Winnetka District 36 School Board: I am writing to raise an issue with the recent memo issued by Dr. Hawley dated September 29, 2015 that was included in the September Board Packet. Dr. Hawley is incorrect in her statement that, “This year, our STAR analysis is constrained due to the fact that STAR renormed its assessment the summer of 2014, and as a result, data from previous years’ SGPs are not comparable for trend analysis.” I made a phone call to Renaissance Learning Customer Service they were able to confirm that indeed longitudinal analysis can be done on previous years of STAR results and they gave me a quick explanation on how to do it. In fact, they insist that a key benefit to STAR testing is the ability to conduct longitudinal testing. Per Renaissance:

  • Longitudinal analysis can be provided for both a cohort (a grade of students over several years) as well as by individual teacher for all the years the District has been using STAR.

  • Longitudinal analysis is done by downloading the data to a text file and copying into Excel. If the District is uncertain on how to do it, the Renaissance Customer Service urged, “Please have them call us and we can easily explain how to do it.” Their number is (800) 338-4204.

  • Yes, the test was re-normed in 2014 but that does not prevent a district from doing longitudinal analysis per the method above.

  • In the future, Renaissance is building better longitudinal reporting capabilities that can be used directly from the “dashboard” the District is given to manage data.

I would like a response from the School Board to the following questions:

  1. Will you ask the administration conduct longitudinal analysis both by cohort and by individual teacher for the past 3+ years of STAR data the District has collected?

  2. Will you insist the administration improve its record of accurate analysis and reporting to the Board and to the community?

Most importantly: children in Winnetka are being put through hours of testing and those test results are being buried by the administrators. The excuse that data is cannot tell the full story of a student is not an excuse to bury the data. Given repeated inaccurate reporting by this administration with regard to several matters, such as the spring ERB test analysis and ISAT analysis, you have a major crisis of management. I hope that you demand transparency and more professional management.


Katie Scullion


From: Jennifer Grow <>

Cc: Trisha Kocanda <>; Alison Hawley <>

Sent: Friday, October 16, 2015 10:13 AM

Subject: STAR results

Dear Members of the D36 School Board,

I am a long-time District parent (three children who have graduated D36 and one child still in the District). I see that Tuesday's Board Agenda includes a presentation on proposed math outcomes and measures, and I wanted to flag some issues relative to the District's STAR results.

For the last two years, the Board has been presented with median SGP data by subject and by grade for the STAR test. I was surprised that at the September Board Meeting, the STAR presentation did not show median SGP, but only the percentage of students who met or exceeded the SGP goal. Three points:

1) The Board needs to see the median SGP scores for 2014/15. I have attached a spreadsheet with median SGP by subject and by grade for the last three years. Most of the 2014/15 scores are missing, although I was able to locate median math SGP numbers for third through fifth grade in the June Board packet. As you can see, median math SGP for grades 3-4 continued to decline in 2014/15.

2) STAR results should NOT be declining. Please read the article linked below from Renaissance Learning (the company behind the STAR test) that indicates that STAR data should remain consistent over time.

"In this time of flux, STAR assessments have remained a stable growth measure for many schools, and the data from them can be quite useful when it comes to ensuring stakeholders that all is not lost. While results from mandated summative assessments may create a perception that, overnight, many schools have gone from good to bad, STAR assessments can help document a trend of continual improvement."

3) D36 should have a more ambitious median SGP goal than 50. States who use STAR define "typical" growth as an SGP between 36-65. Based on the District's 2012/13 SGP results, the SGP goal could be 60 or higher. Median growth for the state or the nation is not an acceptable standard for D36 growth. As a high-performing district with significant resources, we should be setting higher standards for ourselves.

I hope the Board will ask for the 2014/15 median SGP data and look carefully at SGP trends over the last three years. After the 2013/14 STAR results were made available, the Board was told that the decline in elementary math SGP might be due to the rollout of the new math curriculum. If so, then the scores should have rebounded in 2014/15. Clearly, there are serious curricular issues that need to be addressed with urgency for both math and reading - not only for specific grade levels, but by cohort. Fortunately, you will have an opportunity to begin this discussion in earnest at Tuesday night's meeting.


Jennifer Grow

MASS PARENT EMAIL #3 after Hawley resigns and Winnetka D36 admits to misleading community about performance:

Dear Neighbor,

This email is to alert you to recent developments in Winnetka District 36. In November the District administration admitted concealing student performance data from the Board and the community. Parents uncovered the problem and informed the Board. Superintendent Kocanda issued a formal apology to us, the Board and to the community. We learned yesterday that Assistant Superintendent Alison Hawley, who was responsible for curriculum and assessment, resigned.

The District has not been forthright with performance data. Deeper analysis, shared in the links below, demonstrates Winnetka District 36 is the lowest performing District of all the New Trier feeder schools and is struggling to meet state standards:

  • The District represented ERB results last winter as on par with other feeders. Our analysis found the opposite to be true, revealing Winnetka 8th graders have the lowest achievement on the ERB of all feeders. Winnetka students have the lowest achievement in math at high levels and in reading for all students. The ERB is used for student placement at New Trier.

  • STAR data that has been presented to the Board to date shows alarmingly poor performance in lower grades compared to state averages, link here:

  • PARCC results were released this week. Winnetka scores below all the other feeders. The elementary schools’ performance is below that of our income demographic. For example, at 49% meets/exceeds standards, Hubbard Woods is on par with a school that is 20-30% low income. Link here:

  • More data is here:

High taxation to support excellent schools has always been a value of this community. But high taxation to support schools that are struggling to meet state standards and have such inferior performance to Wilmette, Glencoe and Northfield is troubling. Further, property values and school reputation are closely linked. A very large number of dissatisfied families have pulled out of the District, with enrollment declines far exceeding surrounding towns. Our enrollment is down 19% since the peak in 2005. Last year 9% of the fifth grade class withdrew from school before the end of the school year. In light of this news, we believe it is time for the District to strive for improved performance and reform its unconventional reading and math programs. Public schools should reflect the standards of the community. Unfortunately, there is no local respected news source that covers these issues. What you can do: 1) Help inform your friends and neighbors about our performance declines, and the unwillingness by the District leadership to reform the system. 2) Attend the School Board meeting next Tuesday, December 15. There are two public meetings: The first from 4:45-6:00pm in the Skokie Resource Room. It will present the full STAR data in math and reading that was previously concealed by the District. At 7:00 there will be a regular meeting. There is time reserved for public comment (3 minutes per person) at the start and end of each meeting. 3) Become informed and engaged and express your concerns to the School Board. You are receiving this email because you signed the parentcoffee petition last fall along with 100 other residents. At that time, the District’s response was that it did not agree there was a problem. Sincerely, Katie Scullion Former Winnetka Caucus Schools Chair; Former D36 Strategic Planning Committee Member Petition Presented to Winnetka District 36 School Board, 2014 Dear Winnetka District 36 School Board and Administrators: The number one reason people move to Winnetka is our school district; our property values depend heavily on the high quality of our schools. Winnetka is a community that expects strong academic achievement in an environment that nurtures the whole child and respects learning differences. Trends in test results do not meet our expectations. We expect our students to meet state academic standards and to be as well prepared as students from the other feeder schools to New Trier. We expect the District to accomplish these goals WITHOUT "teaching to the test." Action should be taken now. We call for D36 to: 1) Immediately replace math curriculum materials, TERC Investigations (now in grades K-5), with a program like "Math in Focus" (Singapore Math) that has been proven effective for high-performing communities. 2) Use scientifically proven, research-based reading curriculum and instruction methods. 3) Implement reading assessment and intervention programs beginning in kindergarten. Signed, [100+ concerned parents]


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