5Essentials is an evidence-based system designed to drive improvement in schools nationwide.

How 5Essentials Works

5Essentials is an evidence-based system designed to drive improvement in schools nationwide. The 5Essentials system reliably measures changes in a school organization through its survey, predicts school success through scoring, and provides individualized actionable reports to schools, districts, parents, and community partners, and training to school leadership and teachers.

A diagnostic assessment of school effectiveness based on more than 20 years of research, 5Essentials assesses schools’ strengths and weaknesses in five key areas. Through student and teacher surveys, survey scoring, individualized reports, and professional learning sessions for school leadership teams, 5Essentials helps schools organize, prioritize, evaluate, and achieve sustainable improvement.

5Essentials expands the conversation in education to include critical social elements aligned to what matters most for improved student learning—the five Essentials for school success:

  • Effective Leaders: The principal works with teachers to implement a clear and strategic vision for school success.
  • Collaborative Teachers: The staff is committed to the school, receives strong professional development, and works together to improve the school.
  • Involved Families: The entire school staff builds strong relationships with families and communities to support learning.
  • Supportive Environment: The school is safe and orderly. Teachers have high expectations for students. Students are supported by their teachers and peers.
  • Ambitious Instruction: Classes are academically demanding and engage students by emphasizing the application of knowledge.


The 5Essentials system:

  • Reliably measures changes in a school organization through its School Improvement Survey of teachers and students.
  • Predicts schools’ success through research-tested diagnostic analysis.
  • Creates individualized web-based reports that offer a comprehensive picture of the school environment and provide a framework for understanding the 100-plus survey questions.
  • Supports school leadership teams with rigorous, engaging training sessions to help educators better utilize 5Essentials data for improvement. Through the use of norms, protocols, and reflection, the sessions establish a psychologically safe environment that enables practitioners to strategically analyze, plan, act, reflect, and adjust in productive ways.


The 5Essentials Survey is currently being used in diverse school contexts in 14 states and 30 cities across the United States. These settings vary from the entire state of Illinois including Chicago, a school in rural Montana, to Iowa, to suburban St. Paul, to Kansas City, and private, parochial and public schools in Detroit.

Below are perspectives from educators in various school contexts, all working with the 5Essentials survey:


“We have conducted staff and student surveys for a while. However, there were two big problems. First, we could always compare school to school but, until­ we started using 5Essentials, we had no reliable way of answering, "Is 60% good?"  Second, staff and student impressions around research-based practices are invaluable. 5Essentials made sure that we were not just getting input, but that we were getting input about the right things.”

— Peter Olson-Skog; Director of Teaching and Learning, Roseville Area School District


“It was both an honor and a pleasure working with 5E—we feel like we have what we need to take the next step toward using this data to improve our schools.”

— Jane Stassen; Director of Curriculum and Instruction, South Saint Paul Public Schools


“This survey was eye opening and is already making a difference. It really generates baseline data to help us figure out where we’re at and what changes need to take place. It’s not a punitive or a `gotcha’ exercise but has truly led to some positive changes.”

— Kimberly Capron; Instructional Specialist; Wayne Elementary School, Detroit Public Schools


“At Benjamin Banneker we have used and continued to still use the 5Essentials Report results for school improvement by identifying strengths, areas of concerns, and weakness. Considering our strengths, we would like to examine those aspects to ensure these assets did not occur by accident, yet by design. In identifying our areas of concerns and weakness, we are in the process of narrowing the list to 3 to 5 items we would like to focus on to develop SMART goals and determine our results indicators for further analysis and implementation. Mostly the report confirmed what we already knew or could state concerning the direction we are heading at Benjamin Banneker. However, it is nice to have multiple data points to make informed decisions.

—Tamara Burns, Ed.D; ELA/ Common Core Specialist; Benjamin Banneker Charter Academy of Technology, Kansas City, Missour