Both the Champaign and Urbana school districts are encouraging parents to take a survey that will help them measure how welcome parents feel in school buildings and how comfortable they feel communicating with teachers.
The survey is being offered through the Illinois State Board of Education, and if Illinois schools get enough participation, the results from the survey will be listed on the schools' state report cards.
The survey, called "5Essentials," can be found at https://illinois.5-essentials.org/2012 . It can be taken through the end of March.
Urbana parents who don't have access to computers or the Internet are being urged to take the survey at their children's schools, said district spokeswoman JoAnne Geigner.
The survey will help Urbana work toward its strategic plan goal of engaging families, Geigner said.
"(Parents) are partners with us in teaching the kids," she said.
The Champaign school district is also asking parents to take the survey.
"The 5Essentials Survey is an important opportunity for us to pinpoint our successes and challenge areas as a district," said Champaign Superintendent Judy Wiegand in a news release. "We encourage all our teachers, middle and high school students, and parents to make their voices heard to impact change."
Geigner said the survey's results will show what Urbana is doing well and help it identify areas that need improvement.
"The more we hear from parents, the better we can communicate with them to help students," Geigner said. "We have to be on the same page."
Schools need 50 percent of teachers and students between sixth and 12th grades and 30 percent of each school's parents to take the survey to get results.
Illinois State Board of Education spokeswoman Mary Fergus said that amount of parent participation is needed to provide a "statistically reliable percentage of respondents."
The survey for parents asks about how comfortable they feel communicating with their child's teachers and how welcome they feel in the building.
Some of the survey questions for teachers asks them how often they talk about instruction, about how feedback is shared, if new teachers are welcomed, how teachers support kids in the school and if they feel like parents and principals respect them.
Survey questions for students ask about how safe they feel at school, their study habits and how they feel about their teachers.
The survey is meant to measure school climate and was developed using 20 years' worth of research by University of Chicago Consortium on Chicago School Research.
The survey references factors that are likely to influence school improvement, including having effective leaders, collaborative teachers, involved families, supportive environments and ambitious instruction.
Schools who are strong in three of those five areas "are 10 times more likely to improve student learning than schools weak in three to five of the essentials," said a news release from the state board of education.
The survey was created as a part of a law passed in 2011 to strengthen education in Illinois.