Student Voice

Each year, D97 reaches out to students to listen about their daily experiences at school via the PLESS survey, 5Essentials survey, and student Lunch and Learn focus groups. This on-the-ground student voice is imperative in allowing senior district adminstrators to hear firsthand about the successes and the concerns of our students. The compiled results are then shared with administrators and school PBIS teams and used to inform our continuous efforts to improve student life and success on campus.

This survey is given to all parents and teachers as well as all middle school students each fall with a goal of 100 percent participation. The parent survey for the 2020-2021 school year is now open, please click here to complete it.

The survey is based on the Five Essentials for School Success, an evidence-based framework developed by the University of Chicago. This framework identifies how school performance on five factors or “essentials” can lead to important student outcomes, including improved attendance and larger test score gains. Prior research has shown that schools strong on three or more of the 5Essentials were 10 times more likely to improve student learning gains than schools weak on three or more of the Essentials. These 5Essentials are: Effective Leaders, Collaborative Teachers, Involved Families, Supportive Environment and Ambitious Instruction.

Once completed, the University of Chicago provides complied scores to both the schools and the district each spring to inform school improvement planning. These scores are also included in the State School Report Card which is released by ISBE each year.

The Positive Learning Environment Student Survey (PLESS) is given to all students in first through eighth grade each fall and spring.

This survey focuses on the students' perceptions of their learning environment and identifies areas of growth for each school that yield high impact on student success. The survey includes questions such as:

  • “When I am at school, I feel I belong.”
  • “When I am at school, I feel my teachers treat me with respect.”
  • “When I am at school, I feel I am challenged by the work my teachers ask me to do.”
  • “When I am at school, I feel students at my school treat me with respect.”

The compiled results are shared with district and school administrators and PBIS teams who then incorporate areas identified as growth opportunities into their annual school improvement plans. The fall and spring responses are then compared to measure the effectiveness of these steps in increasing students' positive learning experiences at school.

Lunch and Learns
Each year the district randomly identifies students in kindergarten through eighth grade to participate in a lunch and learn session at their school, by grade level. The students as a whole are representative of the overall district in gender, ethnicity/race, IEP status, and income.  

Students who choose to participate in these spring lunch sessions, with parent permission, freely discuss areas identified as concerns via the PLESS surveys. This allows the district to more closely discern the specific issues behind those reported concerns as well as successes in addressing them.  The compiled results are shared with the administrators and PBIS teams at each school who develop specific action plans around these student responses.