What are the 5Essentials and 5Essentials Survey?

5Essentials is an evidence-based system designed to drive improvement in schools nationwide—it reliably measures changes in a school organization through the 5Essentials Survey and provides individualized, actionable Reports for each school. The 5Essentials system is based on more than 20 years of research by the University of Chicago Consortium on School Research on five components found to be critical for school success:

  • Effective Leaders: The principal works with teachers to implement a clear and strategic vision for school success.

  • Collaborative Teachers: Teachers collaborate to promote professional growth.

  • 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 and support students to realize their goals. Classmates also support one another.

  • Ambitious Instruction: Classes are academically demanding and engage students by emphasizing the application of knowledge.

The 5Essentials Survey is taken by all prekindergarten through 12th-grade teachers and all fourth- through 12th-grade students and usually requires no more than 30 minutes to complete. The information collected through the survey is rigorously reviewed and analyzed to generate a 5Essentials Report for each school. The 5Essentials Report includes a breakdown of teacher and student responses and, most importantly, provides a comprehensive picture of the school environment based on five essential areas critical for school improvement in a meaningful context of similar and successful schools.

Why is The Illinois State Board of Education implementing this survey?

The State Board has long recognized that test scores alone do not provide a full picture of teaching and learning in any one school. Under recent legislation (Public Act 100-1046), the State Board is now mandated, on an annual basis, to implement a learning conditions survey that will finally help paint that fuller picture. While this survey may help inform state policy and improvement initiatives, it is primarily intended to help local administrators, such as teachers, principals, and superintendents, identify strengths and weaknesses at the district and school level and better target resources and interventions. Aggregated data from the survey will also be shared with parents and the general public on school report cards released in the fall.

What do the surveys ask?

All survey items are multiple choice questions. There are no open-ended responses.

  • The 5Essentials Student Survey asks questions about students’ experiences, attitudes, and activities in school.

  • The 5Essentials Teacher Survey asks questions about a variety of topics, including instruction, professional development, and the school as a workplace.

  • The supplemental parent survey asks questions about the parent’s overall relationship with the school.

How might my school benefit from participating?

This survey provides an opportunity for students and teachers to have a voice in improving their schools. Your school community’s participation can help your school identify areas of strength and those in need of support, with fine-grained questions surfacing specific avenues for improvement. Equipped with this knowledge, school leadership—including teachers, support staff, principals, and district administrators—can be better positioned to target resources and efforts to drive school success.

When will the survey be conducted?

The 5Essentials student and teacher surveys will be administered from January 24 - March 31, 2023. UChicago Impact's supplemental parent survey will be administered during the same window.

Who takes the survey?

  • All fourth- through 12th-grade students

  • All prekindergarten through 12th-grade certified teachers and staff staff whose primary responsibility involves teaching students for the majority of the school day and year

  • All parents/legal guardians

Are there any technical requirements to access the survey online?

To access the survey online, please use an up-to-date version of one of the following browsers:

  • Apple Safari

  • Google Chrome

  • Microsoft Edge

  • Mozilla Firefox

How will the survey be administered?

The survey will be conducted online and will be accessible via the UChicago Impact Surveys platform. Both the student and teacher surveys are rostered in the 5Essentials administration. This means students will use their state student ID and birth date to log-in to take the survey. School and district-level administrators can track individual student progress—but they will never know how an individual student responded to individual questions nor will any unique identifiers be connected with individual responses or used in any report.

Teachers will be emailed their unique username and password to log-in and take the survey. All responses are completely confidential. Administrators will not see which teachers did or did not respond. Also, names or other unique identifiers will never be connected with individual responses or used in any report.

The supplemental parent survey is also administered online. All responses are confidential and cannot be tracked to the individual respondent.

Who sees these data? How will the data be shared and published?

Responses from eligible students (grades 4-12) and teachers will be reviewed and analyzed to create a web-based 5Essentials Report. In May 2023 school principals and district administrators will be given access to view the data. School reports will be available to the public via the reporting website in June and Illinois State Report Card in the fall. To view past results, visit illinoisreportcard.com.

Is student and teacher participation mandatory?

Individual participation in the Illinois 5Essentials is completely voluntary. However, schools must achieve a 50 percent response rate from students and/or a 50 percent response rate from instructional staff to qualify for a report. Therefore, it is important to encourage complete participation from both teachers and students.

Also, if a student does not wish to answer specific questions, he/she may skip them by clicking “Next” at the bottom of the survey screen. Teachers may also skip questions if they do not wish to answer.

Does the parent survey also require a 50 percent response rate?

No, the parent survey requires a 20 percent response rate in order to generate a summary report. Results from the parent survey will be displayed as supplemental measures on the 5Essentials School Report. The parent survey will not be included in the State Report Card. We encourage all D100 parents to take the survey.

Who is conducting this survey?

UChicago Impact, at the University of Chicago's Urban Education Institute, is administering the survey on behalf of The Illinois State Board of Education.

Where can I find more information about the Illinois 5Essentials Survey?

Additional information, including survey questions, a calendar of upcoming webinars, news, etc. can be found on the Illinois 5Essentials website.

Who can I contact to find more information on the Illinois 5Essentials Survey?

Additional information can be found on the Illinois 5Essentials website at www.isbe.net/Pages/5Essentials-Survey.aspx. You can also reach out to your child's principal or contact 5Essentials Client Services at 5Essentials@uchicago.edu or (866) 440-1874.