MENDOTA – Students, teachers and parents across the state of Illinois are being asked to complete an online survey that is hoped to help improve the state’s schools. Addressing the Feb. 19 board of education meeting, Mendota High School Principal Denise Aughenbaugh told board members that the survey is posted on the school website at www.mendotahs.org and will be available through March 31.
The questionnaire, called the Illinois 5Essentials Survey, is administered by UChicago Impact at the University of Chicago and was created 25 years ago specifically for Chicago schools. Data from the survey compiled since that time indicate there are five factors important to student success: effective leaders, collaborative teachers, involved families, supportive environments and ambitious instruction.
Aughenbaugh said the survey is state-mandated and results will be released by the state on the 2013 Illinois School Report Card in the fall.
MHS students will take the survey at school and Aughenbaugh said MHS teachers were all scheduled to take it during collaboration time on Feb. 25. Parents have been asked to complete the survey at home or they may take it during parent/teacher conferences this week. “We’ll have some computers set up and we will also offer translation services to parents who need assistance,” she noted.
Aughenbaugh pointed out that there are questions specific to charter schools, which will not apply to Mendota or other districts that do not have charter schools. “But they’re using the same instrument for the entire state, so that’s what we have,” she said.
Superintendent Jeff Prusator expressed some additional reservations. “Just to be honest, there’s a lot of apprehension with this survey and its validity,” he told the board.
Prusator questioned the lack of verification needed to access the survey. He said there are no real safeguards to prevent someone in another district from taking the MHS survey. “We have some mixed feelings about this,” he said.
The same holds true for the teacher portion of the survey. Prusator said although they were told there is a way to make sure teachers are only taking their district’s survey, he remained skeptical. “We get an e-mail update once a week telling the percentage of people taking the student, parent and teacher survey,” he explained. “We have not opened the survey up to our teachers yet but supposedly, 5 percent of our teachers have taken it. That’s why we question exactly where this is going.”
Another concern expressed by Prusator was the relevancy of information derived from the survey. “The people administering the survey have 25 years worth of research and data that show if you have these five indicators, you’ll be a much more effective school, but that’s at the elementary level,” he said. “They only have five years worth at the high school level.”
Despite the misgivings, the survey is part of the state education reform enacted last year and must, by law, be given. “Maybe it will all work out,” Prusator said. “We’ll see.”
For the complete article see the 02-27-2013 issue.
Click here to purchase an electronic version of the 02-27-2013 paper.