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Essentials and measures in Chicago Public Schools reports

Last Updated: Aug 16, 2012 12:53PM CDT
The 5Essentials were developed based on more than 20 years of research by the University of Chicago Consortium on Chicago School Research on schools and what makes them successful.  What CCSR found is not surprising—schools that are well-organized, safe, and supportive are much more likely to be successful.  Specifically, researchers at CCSR determined five essential components for school success:

  • Effective leaders
  • Collaborative teachers
  • Involved families
  • Supportive environment
  • Ambitious instruction

CCSR has identified survey measures within each of these Essentials.  Below are each of the essentials and their corresponding measures and survey questions.

NOTE: In the reporting tool, items are ordered in “difficulty” order, from most “difficult” to endorse to the “easiest” to endorse.  We do this to try to demonstrate how items are combined into measures. Click here to read more about how measure scores are calculated.

 

Effective Leaders

In schools with Effective Leaders, principals and teachers work together to implement a shared vision. In such schools, people, programs, and resources are focused on a vision for sustained improvement.

Principal Instructional Leadership (Teacher)
In schools with strong Principal Instructional Leadership, the principal is an active and skilled instructional leader who sets high standards for teaching and student learning.

Please mark the extent to which you disagree or agree with each of the following.  The principal at this school:
  • Makes clear to the staff his or her expectations for meeting instructional goals
  • Communicates a clear vision for our school
  • Understands how children learn
  • Sets high standards for student learning
  • Presses teachers to implement what they have learned in professional development
  • Carefully tracks student academic progress
  • Knows what’s going on in my classroom
  • Participates in instructional planning with teams of teachers
Response categories: Strongly disagree, disagree, agree, strongly agree

Program Coherence (Teacher)
In schools with strong Program Coherence, programs are coordinated and consistent with stated goals for student learning.

To what extent do you disagree or agree with the following:
  • Once we start a new program, we follow up to make sure that it’s working.
  • We have so many different programs in this school that I can’t keep track of them all.
  • Many special programs come and go at this school.
  • Curriculum, instruction, and learning materials are well coordinated across the different grade levels at this school.
  • There is consistency in curriculum, instruction, and learning materials among teachers in the same grade level at this school.
Response categories: Strongly disagree, disagree, agree, strongly agree

Teacher Influence (Teacher)
In schools with strong Teacher Influence, teachers have influence over a broad range of decisions regarding policies and practices.

How much influence do teachers have over school policy in each of the areas below:
  • Hiring new professional personnel
  • Planning how discretionary school funds should be used
  • Determining books and other instructional materials used in classrooms
  • Establishing the curriculum and instructional program
  • Determining the content of in-service programs
  • Setting standards for student behavior
Response categories: None, a little, some, to a great extent

Teacher-Principal Trust (Teacher)
In schools with strong Teacher-Principal Trust, teachers and principals share a high level of mutual trust and respect.

To what extent do you feel respected by your principal?
Response categories: Not at all, a little, some, to a great extent

Please mark the extent to which you disagree or agree with each of the following.
  • The principal has confidence in the expertise of the teachers
  • I trust the principal at his or her word
  • It’s OK in this school to discuss feelings, worries, and frustrations with the principal
  • The principal takes a personal interest in the professional development of teachers
  • The principal looks out for the personal welfare of the faculty members
  • The principal places the needs of children ahead of personal and political interests
  • The principal at this school is an effective manager who makes the school run smoothly
Response categories: Strongly disagree, disagree, agree, strongly agree

Collaborative Teachers

In schools with Collaborative Teachers, all teachers collaborate to promote professional growth.

Collective Responsibility (Teacher)
In schools with strong Collective Responsibility, teachers share a strong sense of responsibility for student development, school improvement, and professional growth.

How many teachers at this school:
  • Help maintain discipline in the entire school, not just their classroom
  • Take responsibility for improving the school
  • Feel responsible to help each other do their best
  • Feel responsible that all students learn
  • Feel responsible for helping students develop self-control
  • Feel responsible when students in this school fail
Response categories: None, some, about half, most, nearly all

School Commitment (Teacher)
In schools with strong School Commitment, teachers are deeply committed to the school. Please mark the extent to which you disagree or agree with each of the following:

  • I usually look forward to each working day at this school.
  • I wouldn’t want to work in any other school.
  • I feel loyal to this school.
  • I would recommend this school to parents seeking a place for their child.
Response categories: Strongly disagree, disagree, agree, strongly agree

Quality Professional Development (Teacher)
In schools with strong Quality Professional Development, professional development is rigorous and focused on student learning.

Overall, my professional development experiences this year have:
  • Been sustained and coherently focused, rather than short-term and unrelated
  • Included enough time to think carefully about, try, and evaluate new ideas
  • Been closely connected to my school’s improvement plan
  • Included opportunities to work productively with colleagues in my school
  • Included opportunities to work productively with teachers from other schools
Response categories: Strongly disagree, disagree, agree, strongly agree

Teacher-Teacher Trust (Teacher)
In schools with strong Teacher-Teacher Trust, teachers are supportive and respectful of one another, personally and professionally.

To what extent do you feel respected by other teachers?
Response categories: Not at all, a little, some, to a great extent

Please mark the extent to which you disagree or agree with each of the following.
  • Teachers in this school trust each other.
  • It’s OK in this school to discuss feelings, worries, and frustrations with other teachers.
  • Teachers respect other teachers who take the lead in school improvement efforts.
  • Teachers at this school respect those colleagues who are expert at their craft.
Response categories: Strongly disagree, disagree, agree, strongly agree

Involved Families

In schools with Involved Families, the entire staff builds strong external relationships.

Parent Involvement in School (Teacher)
In schools with strong Parent Involvement, many parents  actively aid the school.

For the students you teach this year, how many of their parents:
  • Attended parent-teacher conferences when you requested them
  • Volunteered time to support the school (e.g., volunteer in classrooms, help with school-wide events, etc.)
  • Contacted me about their child’s performance
  • Picked up their child’s last report card
Response categories: None, some, half, most, all

Outreach to Parents (Teacher)
In schools with strong Outreach to Parents, the school creates a climate that is welcoming and communicative for all parents.

Please mark the extent to which you disagree or agree with each of the following statements about your school:
  • Parents are invited to visit classrooms to observe the instructional program.
  • The principal pushes teachers to communicate regularly with parents.
  • We encourage feedback from parents and the community.
  • Teachers really try to understand parents' problems and concerns.
  • Parents are greeted warmly when they call or visit the school.
  • Teachers work closely with parents to meets students' needs.
  • We work at communicating to parents about support needed to advance the school mission.
  • This school regularly communicates with parents about how they can help their children learn.
Response categories: Strongly disagree, disagree, agree, strongly agree

Teacher-Parent Trust (Teacher)
In schools with strong Teacher-Parent Trust, teachers view parents as partners in improving student learning.

How many teachers at this school feel good about parent’s support for their work?
Response categories: None, some, about half, most, nearly all

For the students you teach this year, how many of their parents:
  • Support your teaching efforts
  • Do their best to help their children learn

Response categories: None, some, about half, most, nearly all

To what extent do you feel respected by the parents of your students?
Response categories: Not at all, a little, some, to a great extent

Please mark the extent to which you disagree or agree with each of the following statements about your school:
  • Teachers and parents think of each other as partners in educating children.
  • Staff at this school work hard to build trusting relationships with parents.
Response categories: Strongly disagree, disagree, agree, strongly agree

Supportive Environment

In schools with a Supportive Environment, the school is safe, demanding, and supportive.

Safety (Student)
In schools with strong Safety, students feel safe both in and around the school building, and while they travel to and from home.

How safe do you feel:
  • In the hallways and bathrooms of the school.
  • Outside around the school.
  • Traveling between home and school
  • In your classes.
Response categories: Not safe, somewhat safe, mostly safe, very safe

Academic Personalism (Student)
In schools with strong Academic Personalism, teachers connect with students in the classroom and support them in achieving academic goals. How much do you agree with the following statements about your [TARGET] class?  The teacher for this class:
  • Helps me catch up if I am behind.
  • Is willing to give extra help on schoolwork if I need it.
  • Notices if I have trouble learning something.
  • Gives me specific suggestions about how I can improve my work in this class.
  • Explains things a different way if I don't understand something in class.

Response categories: Strongly disagree, disagree, agree, strongly agree

Academic Press (Student, grades 6-8 only)
In schools with strong Academic Press, teachers expect students to do their best and to meet academic demands.

How much do you agree with the following statements about your [TARGET] class:
  • This class really makes me think.
  • I’m learning a lot in this class.
    Response categories: Strongly disagree, disagree, agree, strongly agree
    In my [TARGET] class, my teacher:
  • Expects everyone to work hard.
  • Expects me to do my best all the time.
  • Wants us to become better thinkers, not just memorize things.
Response categories: Strongly disagree, disagree, agree, strongly agree

In your [TARGET] class, how often:
  • Are you challenged?
  • Do you have to work hard to do well?
  • Does the teacher ask difficult questions on tests?
  • Does the teacher ask difficult questions in class?
Response categories: Never, once in awhile, most of the time, all of the time

Peer Support for Academic Work (Student, grades 6-8 only)
In schools with strong Peer Support for Academic Work, students demonstrate behaviors that lead to academic achievement.

How many of the students in your [TARGET] class:
  • Feel it is important to come to school every day.
  • Feel it is important to pay attention in class.
  • Think doing homework is important.
  • Try hard to get good grades.
Response categories: None, a few, about half, most, all

Expectations for Post-Secondary Education (Teachers of high school grades)
In schools with strong Expectations for Postsecondary Education, the school creates a culture that promotes college-attendance and college-readiness.

Please mark the extent to which you disagree or agree with each of the following:
  • Teachers expect most students in this school to go to college
  • Teachers at this school help students plan for college outside of class time
  • The curriculum at this school is focused on helping students get ready for college
  • Most of the students in this school are planning to go to college
  • Teachers in this school feel that it is a part of their job to prepare students to succeed in college
Response categories: Strongly disagree, disagree, agree, strongly agree

School-Wide Future Orientation (Students, grades 9-12 only)
In schools with strong School-Wide Future Orientation, all students are engaged in planning for life after graduation.

How much do you agree with the following:  At my high school:
  • Teachers make sure that all students are planning for life after graduation.
  • Teachers work hard to make sure that all students are learning.
  • High school is seen as preparation for the future.
  • All students are encouraged to go to college.
  • Teachers pay attention to all students, not just the top students.
  • Teachers work hard to make sure that students stay in school.
Response categories: Strongly disagree, disagree, agree, strongly agree

Student-Teacher Trust (Students)
In schools with strong Student-Teacher Trust, students and teachers share a high level of mutual trust and respect.

How much do you agree with the following:
  • When my teachers tell me not to do something, I know he/she has a good reason.
  • I feel safe and comfortable with my teachers at this school.
  • My teachers always keep their promises.
  • My teachers will always listen to students' ideas.
  • My teachers treat me with respect.
Response categories: Strongly disagree, disagree, agree, strongly agree

Ambitious Instruction

In schools with strong Ambitious Instruction, classes are challenging and engaging. The instruction is clear, well-structured, and encourages students to build and apply knowledge. When combined with a supportive environment, Ambitious Instruction has the most direct effect on student learning.

Quality of Student Discussion (Teachers)
In schools with strong Quality of Student Discussion, students participate in classroom discussions that build their critical thinking skills.

To what extent do the following characteristics describe discussions that occur in your [TARGET CLASS]:
  • Students build on each other’s ideas during discussion.
  • Students use data and text references to support their ideas.
  • Students show each other respect.
  • Students provide constructive feedback to their peers/teachers.
  • Most students participate in the discussion at some point.
Response categories: Never, rarely, sometimes, almost always

Math Instruction (Students)
In schools with strong Math Instruction, students interact with course material and one another to build and apply knowledge in their math classes.

In your MATH class this year, how often do you do the following:
  • Apply math to situations in life outside of school.
  • Discuss possible solutions to problems with other students.
  • Explain how you solved a problem to the class.
  • Write a few sentences to explain how you solved a math problem.
  • Write a math problem for other students to solve.
  • [High school only:] Solve a problem with multiple steps that takes more than 20 minutes.
Response categories: Never; once or twice a semester; once or twice a month; once or twice a week; almost every day

English Instruction (Students)
In schools with strong English Instruction, students interact with course materials and one another to build and apply critical reading and writing skills.

In your ENGLISH/READING/LITERATURE class this year, how often do you do the following:
  • Debate the meaning of a reading.
  • Discuss connections between a reading and real life people or situations.
  • Discuss how culture, time, or place affects an author's writing.
  • Improve a piece of writing as a class or with partners.
  • Rewrite a paper or essay in response to comments.
  • [High school only:] Explain how writers use tools like symbolism and metaphor to communicate meaning.
Response categories: Never; once or twice a semester; once or twice a month; once or twice a week; almost every day

Course Clarity (Students)
In schools with strong Course Clarity, students are provided clear learning goals and instruction that supports achievement.

How much do you agree with the following statements about your [TARGET] class:
  • I learn a lot from feedback on my work.
  • It’s clear what I need to do to get a good grade.
  • The work we do in class is good preparation for the test.
  • The homework assignments help me learn the course material.
  • I know what my teacher wants me to learn in this class.
Response categories: Strongly disagree, disagree, agree, strongly agree

Supplemental Measures

These measures are not included as part of the 5Essentials but may still provide important context.

Student Classroom Behavior (Students)
Students treat each other with respect, work well together, and help each other learn.

How much do you agree with the following statements about students in your school? Most students in my school:
  • Like to put others down.
  • Help each other learn.
  • Don't get along together very well.
  • Treat each other with respect.
Response categories: Strongly disagree, disagree, agree, strongly agree

Academic Engagement (Students)
Students are interested and engaged in learning.

How much do you agree with the following statements about your [TARGET] class:
  • I usually look forward to this class.
  • I work hard to do my best in this class.
  • Sometimes I get so interested in my work I don't want to stop.
  • The topics we are studying are interesting and challenging .
Response categories: Strongly disagree, disagree, agree, strongly agree

Classroom Rigor (Students)
Teachers encourage all students to make connections and seek multiple perspectives through their coursework.

How much do you agree with the following statements about your teacher in your [TARGET] class? My teacher:
  • Often connects what I am learning to life outside the classroom.
  • Encourages students to share their ideas about things we are studying in class.
  • Often requires me to explain my answers.
  • Encourages us to consider different solutions or points of view.
  • Doesn’t let students give up when the work gets hard.
Response categories: Strongly disagree, disagree, agree, strongly agree

How often does the following occur: In my class, we talk about different solutions or points of view.
Response categories: Very little, some, quite a bit, a great deal

Inquiry-Based Science Instruction (Students)
Students conduct scientific investigations, including generating and testing hypotheses, writing lab reports and using laboratory equipment.

In your SCIENCE class this year, how often do you do the following:
  • Use laboratory equipment or specimens.
  • Write lab reports.
  • Generate your own hypotheses.
  • Use evidence/ data to support an argument or hypothesis.
  • Find information from graphs and tables.
Response categories: Never; once or twice a semester; once or twice a month; once or twice a week; almost every day

Importance of High School for the Future (Students, high school grades only)
Students recognize that working hard during high school is important and that high school is preparing them for their life after graduation.

How much do you agree with the following:
  • Grades in high school matter for success in college.
  • My classes give me useful preparation for what I plan to do in life.
  • High school teaches me valuable skills.
  • Working hard in high school matters for success in the work force.
  • What we learn in class is necessary for success in the future.
Response categories: Strongly disagree, disagree, agree, strongly agree

Emotional Health (Students)
Students have the skills to nurture positive and respectful relationships with others.

How much do you agree with the following:
  • I can always find a way to help people end arguments.
  • I listen carefully to what other people say to me.
  • I'm good at taking turns and sharing things with others.
  • It is easy for me to make suggestions without being bossy.
  • I'm good at working with other students.
  • I'm good at helping people.
Response categories: Strongly disagree, disagree, agree, strongly agree

School Connectedness (Students)
Students feel included in their school’s community.

How much do you agree with the following statements about your school?
  • I feel like a real part of my school.
  • People here notice when I’m good at something.
  • Other students in my school take my opinions seriously.
  • There’s at least one teacher or other adult in this school I can talk to if I have a problem.
  • People at this school are friendly to me.
  • I am included in lots of activities at my school.
  • The teachers here respect me.
Response categories: Strongly disagree, disagree, agree, strongly agree

Parent Supportiveness (Students)
Parents support their children emotionally and developmentally.

How often do your parents do the following:
  • Encourage you to work hard at school.
  • Are supportive of the things I like to do outside of school.
  • Listen to me when I need to talk.
  • Show they are proud of me.
  • Take time to help me make decisions.
Response categories: Never, some of the time, most of the time, all of the time

School Safety (Students)
Students encounter very little crime, violence, or bullying at school.

How much do you agree with the following statements about your school?
  • I worry about crime and violence at my school.
  • Students at this school are often teased or picked on.
  • Students at this school are often threatened or bullied.
  • I sometimes stay home because I don't feel safe at school.
Response categories: Strongly disagree, disagree, agree, strongly agree

Reflective Dialogue (Teachers)
Teachers frequently talk with each other about curriculum, instruction, and student learning.

This school year, how often have you had conversations with colleagues about:
  • What helps students learn the best
  • Development of new curriculum
  • The goals of this school
  • Managing classroom behavior
Response categories: Less than once a month, 2 or 3 times a month, once or twice a week, almost daily

Innovation (Teachers)
Teachers have a strong orientation toward improvement and a willingness to be a part of an active learning environment.

How many teachers at this school:
  • Are really trying to improve their teaching
  • Are willing to take risks to make this school better
  • Are eager to try new ideas
Response categories: None, some, about half, most, nearly all

Please mark the extent to which you disagree or agree with each of the following.
  • All teachers are encouraged to “stretch” and “grow”
  • In this school, teachers are continually learning and seeking new ideas
Response categories: Strongly disagree, disagree, agree, strongly agree

Socialization of New Teachers (Teachers)
New teachers are included in the professional community and are given helpful feedback on their instructional practices.

Please mark the extent to which you disagree or agree with each of the following:
  • Experienced teachers invite new teachers into their rooms to observe, give feedback, etc.
  • A conscious effort is made by faculty to make new teachers feel welcome here.
Response categories: Strongly disagree, disagree, agree, strongly agree

Teacher Collaboration (Teachers)
Teachers observe each others’ practice and work together to review assessment data and develop instructional strategies.

This school year, how often have you:
  • Observed another teacher’s classroom to offer feedback
  • Observed another teacher’s classroom to get ideas for your own instruction
  • Gone over student assessment data with other teachers to make instructional decisions
  • Worked with other teachers to develop materials or activities for particular classes
  • Worked on instructional strategies with other teachers
Response categories: Never, once or twice, 3 to 9 times, 10 or more times

Teacher Safety (Teachers)
Teachers report little or no disorder in the hallways, physical conflict among students, vandalism, robbery or theft, and threats of violence against teachers.

To what extent is each of the following a problem at your school:
  • Physical conflicts among students
  • Robbery or theft
  • Gang activity
  • Disorder in classrooms
  • Disorder in hallways
  • Student disrespect of teachers
  • Threats of violence toward teachers
Response categories: Not at all, a little, some, to a great extent

Student Responsibility (Teachers)
Students are active participants in their own learning and regularly attend class prepared to learn.

How many of the students in your [TARGET CLASS]:
  • Come to class on time
  • Attend class regularly
  • Come to class prepared with the appropriate supplies and books
  • Regularly pay attention in class
  • Actively participate in class activities
  • Always turn in their homework
Response categories: None, some, about half, most, nearly all

Collective Use of Assessment Data
Teachers regularly review assessment data independently, with colleagues, and with the principal.

How frequently do you review assessment data (e.g. department -wide common assessments, standardized tests)? I review assessment data...
  • Independently
  • With teachers in my grade level
  • With teachers across grade levels
  • With my principal
Response categories: Never, a few times a year, every 6 to 8 weeks, every 3 to 4 weeks, weekly

Contact Us

  • Email Us
  • 5Essentials Client Services
    5essentials@uchicago.edu 1.866.440.1874
    (Mon-Fri, 8:30am-5pm Central)
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