MT. VERNON – Local school officials have received the results of the Illinois 5Essentials Survey conducted earlier this year and will now analyze the data for planning purposes.
The state intends to publish the survey findings for all Illinois schools this October. In the mean time, administrators will study the results closely, said Wes Olson, principal of Mt. Vernon Township High School.
“My hope is that we are able to dig into the data and find some positive trends and areas of improvement,” Olson said. “We'll use it for strategic planning purposes for the next school year.”
The 5Essentials Survey is a requirement of the Illinois State Board of Education. The 2012-2013 school year was the first year of the program, and the electronic survey was conducted between Feb. 1 and mid-April of this year.
All sixth through 12th grade students and all pre-kindergarten to 12th grade certified teachers participated. The goal is to help local administrators identify strengths and weaknesses at their schools. Also, survey results may help inform state policy and improvement programs, according to the ISBE.
In the survey, schools are judged in five different categories – effective leaders, collaborative teachers, involved families, supportive environment, and ambitious instruction. The schools receive rankings in each category. The rankings include: very strong, strong, neutral, weak, or very weak.
MVTHS officials are not yet releasing their survey results. District 80, however, has made some preliminary results available.
“My first impressions were we had a pretty positive result,” said District 80 Assistant Superintendent Aletta Lawrence.
District 80 received a “very strong” ranking in three of the five categories – effective leaders, collaborative teachers, and involved families, Lawrence said. In the other two categories, supportive environment and ambitious instruction, the district received a “neutral” designation.
Lawrence said she plans to analyze the results in more detail prior to the district's Aug. 2 administrators' retreat. However, at this point, she is “pretty pleased” with the initial findings.
“I'd be happier if we were all strongs and very strongs, but it's a goal to look at,” Lawrence said.
Olson said he has noticed some discrepancies between MVTHS' overall ratings and the individual responses in the survey. He said just looking at a district's overall rating summary does not paint an accurate picture of “what's going on at the school.”
“When I dig into the data, there are a lot more positive responses than what's reflected in the overall ratings,” Olson said. “My hope is that the general overall summary isn't the only thing reported.”