- The Georgia Department of Education now requires schools to collect surveys from parents, students and teachers, and to consider attendance rates and discipline records in new ratings.
- Atlanta’s NPR station reports the ratings are based on a scale of 1 to 5, with 5 being the best, and 85% of schools scored a 3 or more in 2015 — up 1% from 2014.
- Schools that receive low ratings should work to improve their climates and communicate the score and response plans with parents.
More schools are paying attention to climate issues as research continues to show that bullying and other nonacademic factors contribute to test scores and general student outcomes. In Illinois, the University of Chicago Urban Education Institute identified five factors that significantly impact student learning. Illinois parents, teachers, and students have been asked to respond to the Illinois 5Essentials Survey since 2013, offering their opinions about leadership, collaboration, family involvement, instruction and the school environment.
According to the UEI, research shows schools strong on the five essentials are 10 times more likely to improve student learning than those that are weak. The annual surveys help schools figure out what to focus on for improvement. Key to making use of the surveys in Georgia, Illinois and other states is talking about the results and acting on them, rather than simply putting them on a shelf.