Governor Quinn declares “5Essentials Day” in Illinois to Promote Statewide Participation in UEI's School Climate Survey

With UEI’s 5Essentials Survey underway statewide, more than 1 million students and 100,000 teachers encouraged to take `15 minutes on the 15th’ to weigh in on learning conditions

For Immediate Release
Contact: Mary Ann Fergus
Illinois State Board of Education

Contact: Seong-Ah Cho
University of Chicago
Urban Education Institute

CHICAGO – Governor Pat Quinn proclaimed February 15 as "5Essentials Day" in Illinois to encourage students, teachers, and parents statewide to participate in a 15-minute survey on school climate and learning conditions developed by the University of Chicago Urban Education Institute (UEI).

The Illinois State Board of Education (ISBE) is administering the Illinois 5Essentials Survey as the first statewide survey of its kind. Based on 20 years of research conducted by the University of Chicago Consortium on Chicago School Research and created by UEI’s UChicago Impact arm, the survey gives the state’s nearly 1 million students and 100,000 teachers the opportunity to weigh in on factors proven to drive student learning and help their schools pinpoint concrete steps for improvement.

“This is an incredibly important moment in Illinois. For the first time, parents, students, and teachers can have a direct and legitimate voice in improving school quality,” said Timothy Knowles, John Dewey Director of the Urban Education Institute. “Illinois is the first state in the nation to take this ambitious step—bringing the 5Essentials' tested, actionable evidence to bear to improve every school statewide.”

The survey has been offered since February 1 and to date, nearly 150,000 people have completed the survey. UChicago Impact, which provides empirically-based tools and supporting services to schools across the nation, is working with the board of education to give the state’s nearly 4,000 schools access to the online survey through the end of March 2013.

“The Illinois 5Essentials Survey allows those on the front lines to have a voice, giving decision-makers greater insight into how we can strengthen our schools and make sure Illinois has one of the best education systems in the country,” Governor Quinn said. “Change happens from the bottom up. I encourage Illinois teachers, students and parents to take just 15 minutes to share their experience, wisdom and ideas about improving their local school.”

The Illinois 5Essentials Survey  (Organizing Schools for Improvement) provides a comprehensive assessment of school organizational culture with reports to help drive school improvement on the five indicators or “essentials”:

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

The online instrument is available and intended for all certified K-12 teachers and students in grades 6-12 across the state. To view a copy of the proclamation, visit:

“This survey will generate the kind of feedback that parents, teachers and students routinely discuss in parking lots and school hallways but has never before been solicited and shared across the state,” said ISBE Chairman Gery J. Chico. “This survey is not intended to be punitive but instead help local leaders identify and celebrate their strengths as well as those areas that need improvement.”

Chairman Chico emphasized that strong participation is needed—at least 50 percent of students and teachers at each school must fill out this survey in order to generate a school-level report and have summary information posted on 2013 school report cards.

5Essentials generates data that allows schools to 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, including Chicago Public Schools, the 5Essentials has been shown to be strongly predictive of school improvement. Schools strong in three to five of the Essentials are 10 times more likely to improve student learning than schools weak in three to five of the Essentials. Those differences remain true even after controlling for student and school characteristics including poverty, race, gender and neighborhood characteristics. Strength in components within the Essentials also correlates 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. 

In 2011, Governor Quinn signed into law historic reforms to strengthen education in Illinois. These reforms, known as Senate Bill 7, require the State Board to establish a survey of school climate and learning conditions this school year. This first statewide survey will collect feedback from teachers and students regarding the instructional environment within each school.

Statewide summary results will be shared with ISBE this summer. Schools will also receive their results this summer, and ISBE will incorporate results into the 2013 school report cards, typically released by ISBE at the end of October. Federal Race to the Top funds are covering the cost of the survey.

During this inaugural year, districts have the option of asking parents to participate in the survey. ISBE is considering requiring parental participation in the 2013-14 school year.

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