Students, parents, and teachers weigh in on school climate and learning conditions

Beginning February 9th, District 113A will join the Illinois State Board of Education (ISBE) in the third statewide survey of school climate and learning conditions. The survey provides a unique opportunity for teachers, students and parents to have a voice in improving their schools. From February 9 through March 13, teachers, students and parents will be asked to take a 20-minute research-based survey to help identify strengths and weaknesses in their school’s learning environment. This survey will serve as an opportunity for schools to reflect on progress since the last statewide implementation.

The Illinois 5Essentials Survey provides a comprehensive picture of a school’s organizational culture in an individualized report measuring five “essentials” critical for school success:

  • Effective Leaders
  • Collaborative Teachers
  • Involved Families
  • Supportive Environment
  • Ambitious Instruction

Twenty years of University of Chicago research in more than 400 schools has shown that schools that were strong on at least three of the 5Essentials were 10 times more likely to make substantial gains in improving student reading and math than schools that were weak on three or more of the Essentials. Those differences remained true even after controlling for student and school characteristics, including poverty, race, gender, and neighborhood characteristics. Strength on components within the Essentials also correlated with increased teacher retention, student attendance, college enrollment, and high school graduation.

Generated from a rigorous analysis of teacher and student survey responses, 5Essentials Reports demonstrate that what teachers and students say about their schools can serve as important indicators for school success. In the inaugural 2012-2013 statewide Illinois 5Essentials Survey, 87 percent of all schools in the state met the 50-percent participation threshold to receive a 5Essentials Report, with participation from more than 70 percent of all teachers and eligible 6th through 12th graders across Illinois.

“The State Board is committed to helping schools build more complete pictures of their learning conditions, to better guide state and local efforts for school improvement,” said State Superintendent of Education Christopher A. Koch. “The Illinois 5Essentials Survey provides an important chance for schools to check in with their communities and gather critical feedback to inform district improvement efforts.”

In 2015, all districts will have the option to participate and are strongly encouraged to do so. Districts participating in Race to the Top and those that did not participate in the survey last year will be required under state law to participate.

District 113A participated in the statewide 5Essentials Survey in the inaugural 2012-13 administration.  To meet state legislation and the Board’s mandate, District 113A will administer the survey in 2015 to learn how schools are doing on the 5Essentials for school success.

Principals and superintendents will receive their 5Essentials Reports in May 2015. Survey results will also be reported publicly on the 2015 State School Report Card website and the full 5Essentials Reports will also be released in the fall. An optional parent survey is again available to all schools as a supplement to the 5Essentials Survey for teachers and students—results from the parent survey supplement will be included only in the individual school 5Essential Reports. Since 2013-14, the Illinois 5Essentials Survey has been normed using the 2012-13 statewide results so that all schools can demonstrate progress over time.

On behalf of the Illinois State Board of Education, UChicago Impact is providing Illinois 5Essentials to schools statewide. Teachers, students, and parents may complete the Illinois 5Essentials Survey online.

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