Illinois Valley Central School District will join the Illinois State Board of Education in providing a unique opportunity for teachers, students and parents across the state to have a role in improving their schools.

Between Feb. 1 and the end of March, teachers, students and parents will be asked to take a 15-minute research-based survey to help identify strengths and weaknesses in their school’s climate and learning conditions.

This is the second survey in which IVC administrators have asked District students and parents to participate in as many weeks. The first is available through the District’s website and gathers information about bullying.

The new survey is available by visiting and measures the school “climate” in five key areas. Results will be used to expand on areas of success and retool areas in need of improvement.

Teachers and students in grades six through to 12 will also be asked to participate in this survey.

IVC District Superintendent Dr. Nick Polyak emphasizes the importance in taking the survey and notes that participation is essential to accurately gauge the district’s standing in all five areas.

“As a school district, we serve our students and parents. This survey is an important tool that will provide vital feedback from those who are directly served by the district,” noted Polyak.

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
•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 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 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,” said State Superintendent of Education Christopher A. Koch. “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.

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