On Feb. 17, Oswego High School students, staff, and parents received an email regarding the 5Essentials Survey, a state-mandated survey that is distributed every year by Chicago Impact, a nonprofit organization at the University of Chicago. They work with the Illinois State Board of Education to help check-in on schools’ grades and test scores, while also getting insight on the culture and social climate.
“The survey is distributed in three portions: a parent portion, a student portion, and a staff portion,” Andrea Parker, Assistant Principal of student services at OHS said. “And essentially what it looks at is climate, culture, and then instruction. It’s looking for feedback from those three groups of people on how the school is doing, the trust level of the school, and demographic questions too.”
The survey covers questions related to access to technology in schools, how students interact with teachers in certain subjects, support for students outside of school, and other topics related to one’s well-being while at the school. Questions regarding students’ life outside of school may also be on the survey, but these are in regards to how they would affect a student’s ability to learn.
These questions are essential to help the school board identify the five indicators that students are in a good and safe learning environment: effective leaders, collaborative teachers, involved families, supportive environments, and ambitious instruction. According to the Illinois State Board of Education, schools that are strong in at least three of the five indicators are 10 times more likely to have improved outcomes for students.
Questions regarding race or gender are not required to be answered, and all of the surveys are answered anonymously so takers can answer truthfully with no way of answers being tied back to the surveyee. However, while they’re answered anonymously, administrators can still see who has submitted the survey for completion.
The survey designates schools into one of four categories: exemplary, commendable, targeted support, and comprehensive support.
These categories are determined by test ratings, grades, student population, and survey participation. The Illinois Board of Education requires 20% parent participation, 50% teacher participation, and 95% student participation to receive reports on each portion of the survey. Last year, despite not making the requirement, OHS was designated a commendable school.
This year, the administration is striving to have more student participation in the survey, so students are encouraged to complete the survey during guided study or in their free time. If there is a lack of student participation, the administration will make attempts to raise the percentage, even by “pulling kids down to the office during their guided study if we have to,” according to Parker. The survey is live from March 31, so there is still plenty of time for students to complete the survey.
“We want to put ourselves obviously in the best opportunity to make sure we’re meeting all our expectations,” Parker said.
Results from previous years’ surveys are posted on the UChicago website. For more information on the 5Essentials Survey, the Illinois State Board of Education has a support email at 5Essentials@isbe.net, or Mrs. Parker is in charge of handling the survey for OHS.
I am a junior at OHS. This is my first year on staff as a news reporter and editor. I am interested in the gym and video games.
Good article, Riley!