Chicago Public Schools releases University-developed 5 Essentials School Reports

On Tuesday, Sept. 13, Chicago Public Schools publicly released for the first time more than 600 individualized school reports produced by the University of Chicago Consortium on School Research.

These reports measure school performance using the 5 Essentials, an approach developed at the Consortium to gauge how individual schools perform on the factors that matter most for student learning.


The interactive 5 Essentials School Reports for 2011 are available at

Consortium researchers developed the 5 Essentials by analyzing 15 years of data on what determines student outcomes. They found that schools strong on at least three of five essential elements are 10 times more likely to improve in math and reading than schools weak on three to five essentials. The 5 Essentials are:

Instructional Leadership: The principal works with teachers to implement a shared vision

Professional Capacity: Teachers collaborate to promote professional growth

Family and Community Ties: The entire staff builds strong external relationships

Learning Climate: The school is safe, demanding, and supportive

Ambitious Instruction: Classes are academically challenging and engaging

The 5 Essentials provide a complementary approach to reform strategies focused on standardized tests. Tests are useful for measuring learning gains, but everyone working on school success also needs research-based evidence to set priorities that will accelerate learning and drive test score gains. The 5 Essentials School Reports for the first time place this evidence in the hands of Chicago students, teachers, and principals, families, and others.

CPS chose to release the 5 Essentials School Reports publicly, following the publication of Organizing Schools for Improvement, a volume by Consortium researchers, which made the case for the 5 Essentials.  It was named one of the top education books of the decade by the journal Education Next.

The school reports are available for 608 schools, which comprise the 87 percent of Chicago Public Schools that participated in the 2011 CPS My Voice, My School survey. Based on survey data provided by students and teachers, the reports reflect the perspective of 146,863 students in grades six through 12, and 12,688 teachers across all grades. Teachers and students from neighborhood, magnet, charter, and selective enrollment schools participated in the survey.

Parents, teachers, principals, community members and others can use the individualized reports to:

Diagnose a school’s strengths and weaknesses

Set priorities to help a school succeed

Compare how it feels to be a teacher or student in different schools across the city