School Climate – An Annual Survey of Learning Conditions
By Mark Hansen | 3Eastland Superintendent of Schools
The Prairie Advocate News will feature an eight (8) week series of articles explaining the different expectations of all school districts who are participating in Race to the Top 3. This is the 7th installment.
From February 1 – February 15, 2013, the new Illinois 5 Essentials Survey will available on Eastland’s website for all 6-12th grade students, parents, and teachers. The University of Chicago developed the survey based on 20 years of research on five essential areas that are known to have a significant impact on the learning conditions in a school: instruction, environment, leaders, teachers and family involvement. Newly mandated for all Illinois schools, the survey will generate data that will be part of every district’s Annual School Report Card released in October.
The use of survey data for school improvement purposes is not new to Eastland. In 2009, the District administered the Washington State School Improvement Survey (WSSIS), a similar instrument based on meta-analyses of research on highly effective schools. The WSSIS had versions directed to elementary, middle and high school students, teachers, parents and community members. Data was disaggregated and evaluated as part of the District’s continuous improvement process.
The 5 Essentials Survey will provide similar information with one important enhancement: the same survey will be administered throughout all Illinois schools. This will allow Eastland to benchmark responses on the survey against similar districts and the state as a whole. The ability to benchmark responses from Eastland students, staff and parents with data collected throughout the state will make the data significantly more meaningful and useful. All Race to the Top districts were required to participate in the survey as a condition of their participation in the program, but all Illinois public schools will be administering the survey this spring.