Climate survey: Things are cool in D181

The 2023 Comprehensive School Climate Inventory results show students, staff and families all gave the district favorable marks, rating nearly all areas as positive (above 3.5).

"I just think it's a fantastic celebration that all of our schools are over 4.0," Tracey Miller, director of assessment, instruction and evaluation, told board members Monday.

CSCI measures 12 essential dimensions of a healthy school climate in five broad categories - safety, teaching and learning, interpersonal relationships, social media and institutional environment, plus two dimensions for district personnel only.

The survey is administered to students in fourth through eighth grade, staff at all levels and families of all students.

The Illinois State Board of Education requires districts to implement a learning conditions survey and identifies the 5Essentials product. District 181 has been using CSCI, one of two allowable alternatives, since the 2017 school year.

Results for all three groups have generally averaged at or above 4.0, Miller said. The three-year average is 4.15 for students, 4.55 for staff and 4.13 for families.

All schools received an average score higher than 4.0, ranging from 4.07 for Hinsdale Middle School to 4.52 for Prospect School.

Only four of 84 areas (listed by respondent group and dimension) received a median score of 3.5 or below, on the borderline of the neutral category. Three involved social-emotional learning and one involved social inclusion.

"These are things that we've been focusing on," Miller said.

The social-emotional security questions ask students things like whether they have been called names or have seen other students called names, if there are groups of students who make others feel left out and whether most students are nice to other students.

"I think what's notable here is it doesn't talk about ongoing," Miller said. "It talks about 'more than once.' I think that these are things we'll continue to work on that are just things that are part of elementary and middle school."

Miller also noted students spent more than two years sitting in rows to meet COVID protocols and didn't have the same opportunities to engage with each other as they usually do.

Response rates were very high, Miller reported. During 2023, 99 percent of students participated in the survey, along with 100 percent of staff members and 44 percent of families.

Building staff will determine what if any shifts need to be implemented for the remainder of this school year or the 2023-24 school year.

Overall, Miller found the results very encouraging.

"There are so many 4-pluses, so many positive judgments," she said. "I'm really, really proud of the work that's been done."

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Pamela Lannom is editor of The Hinsdalean