News

For Immediate Release
March 17, 2014

School Environment Matters: State Board of Education administers second Illinois 5Essentials Survey to help improve student learning


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

SPRINGFIELD –Many sixth through 12th grade students and teachers across the state will once again have the opportunity to provide feedback on their schools’ learning conditions and climate through a state survey that aims to help drive improvement planning and paint a fuller picture of the nearly 4,000 public schools in Illinois. Results from this year’s survey will be posted on the State School Report Card which is released each fall.

The roughly 20-minute-long online survey, called the Illinois 5Essentials Survey, will be available in select schools as of today, March 17, for students and teachers. By law, each district is only required to administer the survey every other year. Race to the Top districts, which are those that are piloting innovative education initiatives, and districts that did not administer the survey last year, are required to offer it sixth through 12th grade students and teachers this year. Districts may also choose to administer an optional parent component of the survey.

“This survey generates data that districts can use to guide their on-going efforts to improve schools and offer students a world-class education,” said State Superintendent of Education Christopher A. Koch. “Districts and the state share this data as another improvement tool and a means to inform parents and community members.”

The Illinois 5Essentials Survey window will close April 25, and results will be shared publically, via the release of the  State School Report Card, in late October. The State Board once again joins UChicago Impact at the University of Chicago Urban Education Institute in providing the online survey. The Illinois 5Essentials Survey (Organizing Schools for Improvement) asks about leadership, collaboration, family involvement, instruction and the school environment.

At least 50 percent of students and teachers at each school must fill out this survey in order for ISBE to have enough data to generate a school-level report. The survey provides a comprehensive assessment of school organizational culture with reports to help drive school improvement on the five indicators or “Essentials”:

5Essentials generates data that helps schools target resources and make decisions that help accelerate learning and test score gains. 5Essentials also demonstrates that teachers and students can play a crucial role in school reform: What they share about their schools reliably predicts whether those schools are likely to improve or stagnate.

Based on 20 years of research conducted by the University of Chicago Consortium on Chicago School Research in more than 400 schools, the 5Essentials has been shown to be strongly predictive of school improvement. Research has shown that schools strong in three to five of the Essentials were 10 times more likely to improve student learning than schools weak in three to five 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.

In addition to being used in CPS, a version of the 5Essentials survey has been administered in schools in Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, Minnesota, New York and Indiana.

“We cannot rely on test scores to provide an accurate representation of the caliber of teaching and learning that take place in individual school buildings,” said Cinda Klickna, President of the Illinois Education Association. “The 5Essentials Survey collects the valuable insights of both teachers and students to give a more complete picture of the leadership, instruction, collaboration and community support that shape our schools and affect what happens in the classroom.”

This is the second year of the school climate and learning conditions survey, required under Senate Bill 7, which was passed in 2011. Last year, during the first year of implementing the 5Essentials survey across the state of Illinois, 87 percent of all public schools in the state met the required 50 percent participation threshold to receive survey results. More than 70 percent of all teachers and eligible students across Illinois took part in the 2012-2013 survey.

"Our district operates on a continuous improvement cycle,” said Indian Prairie CUSD 204 Superintendent Kathryn Birkett. “We welcome the feedback provided from students, staff and parents through 5Essentials so we can make improvements and adjustments as needed.”

Like last year, districts have the option of asking parents to participate in the survey. While this survey may help inform state policy and improvement initiatives, it is primarily intended to help schools at the local level by identifying strengths and areas that need improvement and provide more comprehensive information about each school for parents and community members. Federal Race to the Top funds are covering the cost of the survey.

For more information visit: https://illinois.5-essentials.org and http://www.isbe.net/5essentials.

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