Schools Report: 5Essentials survey designed to help improve learning

Rantoul Press columnists

Students and teachers will weigh in on school climate and learning conditions. The deadline for  this survey is March 31.

Rantoul Township High School and Rantoul City Schools need to hear your voice This month, both districts will provide a unique opportunity for teachers, students and parents to have a role in improving their schools.

Teachers, students and parents will be asked to take a 15-minute research-based online survey to help identify strengths and weaknesses in their school’s climate and learning conditions.

It is imperative that all parents participate by completing the survey at If each school does not have enough participation, those schools affected will not receive a report of the findings. It consists of 26 questions and is estimated to take 10-15 minutes. All of the surveys are confidential and cannot be linked to you or your student in any manner.

RTHS sent an email and a letter home welcoming parents to take the survey. There will also be information about the survey on the RTHS webpage at A letter about the student portion of the survey was also sent home to parents. The high school will be scheduling time during study halls for the students to complete the survey.  

RCS will notify parents initially with a letter accompanying either upcoming parent-teacher conference information (K-fifth grade) or junior high progress reports. The RCS letter gives the web address link to access,

RCS will also send an email to all parents with the same link to the survey, or find the link on the RCS webpage at  

If you have children in more than one school, please complete the survey for each school your children attend.

The Illinois 5Essentials Survey (organizing schools for improvement) provides a comprehensive assessment of school organizational culture with actionable reports to help drive school improvement on five indicators or essentials: effective leaders; collaborative teachers; involved families; supportive environment and ambitious instruction.

Illinois 5Essentials generates data that helps schools target resources and make decisions that help accelerate learning and test score gains. Illinois 5Essentials also demonstrates that teachers and students can play a crucial role in school reform. What they share about their school’s 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 have 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 on components within the Essentials also correlates with increased teacher retention, student attendance, college enrollment, and high school graduation.

“The state board has long understood that test scores alone do not offer the full picture of schools and learning,” State Superintendent of Education Christopher A. Koch said. “The Illinois 5Essentials Survey will finally help us paint that fuller picture of learning conditions and guide local and state improvement initiatives so that every student has access to a world class education.”

The Illinois 5Essentials Survey, required to be implemented this school year by legislation passed in 2011, represents the first attempt by a state to administer a statewide survey of learning conditions to teachers, students and parents.

Statewide summary results will be shared with ISBE this summer. School-level results will be sent to schools this summer and will be part of 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.

On behalf of the Illinois School Board of Education, UChicago Impact at the University of Chicago is providing Illinois 5Essentials to schools statewide.Teachers, students and parents may complete the Illinois 5Essentials Survey online. For more information visit:

Michelle Ramage is superintendent at Rantoul City Schools. Scott Amerio is superintendent at Rantoul Township High School.

Categories (2):Columns, Opinions


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