Illinois 5Essentials Survey:
Organizing Schools for Improvement

In District 181, we are once again joining the Illinois State Board of Education (ISBE) in administering the Illinois 5Essentials Survey for the third consecutive year. Our certified teachers and middle school students will complete the 15-minute research-based survey to help identify strengths and areas for improvement in their school climate and learning conditions. A parent survey is also available. While not required by the state, we encourage our families to participate.

*New for 2015: Please note that District 181 is among those districts that volunteered to participate in the rostered teacher survey pilot for this year’s Illinois 5Essentials Survey, and so the URL that our applicable staff, students, and families will use to access the survey is different. The pilot survey URL for students, teachers, and parents is


The Illinois 5Essentials Survey 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

Results from past surveys are available with State Report Cards. 

Why did the Illinois State Board of Education implement this survey?
(Response from the 5Essentials website) 

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 legislation (Senate Bill 7, PERA), the State Board is now mandated, on a biennial 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. 

Past Survey Results

Teacher and student response data is included with the 2013 and 2014 State Report Cards, and you can explore the results on the 5Essentials website. The Illinois State Board of Education did not create reports or publish results for the parent results. We chose to release the data voluntarily. In 2014, only those schools with enough responses (30%) generated a report. For 2014, those schools were Elm, Madison, and Walker.

As noted by the Illinois State Board of Education, the aim of the survey was to "provide educators and administrators with data to inform best decision making for improving school climate." Further, the intention of the survey is to "provide additional information to the public as well as additional data points to schools and districts for reflection and improvement... The reports are not intended for ranking nor do they prove which schools are best serving their students."