Student survey provides valuable data for community | SierraSun.com

Student survey provides valuable data for community

Christine Stanley

Truckee students are about to provide educators and the community with an invaluable asset: Information. In February or March the Tahoe Truckee Unified School District will administer its third bi-annual California Healthy Kids Survey as part of the No Child Left Behind Act. The surveys – given to students in fifth, seventh, ninth, and eleventh grades – broach such issues as self-efficacy, self-awareness, substance use, nutrition, and violence. The results are used to grow and develop effective school programming. “If we want to know the truth, then we need to talk about it,” said Laurie Martin, director of Community Youth Development. “This survey is about positive youth development and life-long learning. It gives us (the resources) to do the best we can to help our youth grow into the best people they can be.”In order to increase student participation and to obtain the largest possible amount of data, the school board will approve passive-consent for students to take the survey at the high school level. Such an approval will allow parents to opt their student out of taking the survey by signing the negative consent form that will be mailed to all families, but will not require direct parent permission. Parents of middle school students will still need to sign a permission slip in order for their child to participate. “We expect that the number of students able to participate will increase, giving us more results to work with,” Martin said. “We will be better able to gage the health and wellness of students and respond in terms of resources and education in a way that is more meaningful.”Results from the two previous surveys, given in 2002 and 2004, were used to develop issue-specific programs, such as suicide prevention workshops, diversity acceptance training, drug and tobacco prevention, and service learning programs.”Diversity and race relations are getting to be hot-button issues on our campuses,” said service learning coordinator Sasha Neumann. “I think the biggest issue is apathy, but kids will stop cutting each other down if we can give them activities to focus on.”Also new this year will be a supplemental survey for ninth- and eleventh-graders developed by the Mountain Prevention Coalition, a group of representatives from local law enforcement agencies, Tahoe Women’s Services, school counselors, and Placer and Nevada County Health and Human Services. Questions on this portion of the survey seek to find whether students feel they have adequate information and resources for such issues as safe sex and domestic violence. “This survey is a refreshing aspect of No Child Left Behind,” said middle-school parent Emily Headley. “All you do is hear about standards and testing, but here they’re looking at the health of a whole being. They’re asking whether you have someone to talk to at home, and whether you ate a vegetable or fruit today.”The survey’s results, which are compiled by school, the district, and the state, will be available in late spring, according to Martin, and can be accessed via the California Healthy Kids Web site.The survey is available for review at school sites’ counseling offices, a link on the District Web site, http://www.ttusd.org, and online at http://www.wested.org/pub/docs/chks_surveys_summary.html. Call Laurie Martin at 582.2522 or e-mail, lmartin@ttusd.org for more information. Check it outThere will be parent information sessions on Jan. 23,11:30 to 1 p.m. at Sierra Mountain Middle School, 11603 Donner Pass Rd. in Truckee, and on Jan. 24, 11:30 1 p.m. at the Boys and Girls Club, 8125 Steelhead in Kings Beach.