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CHKS and YRBS: An Overview


CHKS (California Healthy Kids Survey)

The CHKS (California Healthy Kids Survey) was developed under contract from CDE by WestEd in collaboration with Duerr Evaluation Resources, assisted by an Advisory Committee of researchers, teachers, school prevention and health program practitioners, and public agency representatives. It is designed to provide a common set of comprehensive health risk and resilience data across the state to guide local program decision-making and also determine geographic and demographic variations. Its flexible structure enables it to be easily customized (including the addition of questions) and integrated into program evaluation efforts to meet local needs and interests.

The Healthy Kids Survey is a comprehensive and customizable youth self-report data collection system that provides essential and reliable health risk assessment and resilience information to schools, districts, and communities.

Targeted at grades 5-12, the HKS enables schools and communities to collect and analyze valuable data regarding local youth health risks, assets, and behaviors. The survey is a powerful tool that can help schools and districts meet all the new assessment requirements of the No Child Left Behind Act (NCLB) for Title IV Safe and Drug Free Schools and Communities by accurately identifying areas of strength and weakness. It is designed to be part of a comprehensive data-driven decision making process to help guide the development of more effective health, prevention, and youth development programs.

At the heart of the HKS is a research-based “Core” module that provides valid indicators of drug use, violence, crime, and physical and mental health. The Core, in combination with the Resilience & Youth Development Module, collects all the data needed for NCLB compliance and allows comparability to state and national data. A unique benefit of the HKS is its customizability to meet local needs. In addition to the Core, there are five supplementary modules to choose from that ask detailed questions on specific topics. There is also a custom module for incorporating additional questions targeting topics of local interest. You can select questions from our comprehensive item pool, or hire HKS staff to help you create new questions. The customizability of the HKS means that schools and districts receive relevant, useful knowledge tailored to their needs.


Youth Risk Behavior Surveillance System (YRBSS)

The Youth Risk Behavior Surveillance System (YRBSS) was developed by the Division of Adolescent and School Health, United States Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), in 1990 to monitor priority health risk behaviors that contribute markedly to the leading causes of death, disability, and social problems among youth and adults in the United States.  These behaviors, often established during childhood and early adolescence, include:

  • Behaviors that contribute to unintentional injuries and violence;
  • Tobacco use;
  • Alcohol and other drug use;
  • Sexual behaviors that contribute to unintended pregnancy and sexually transmitted diseases, including HIV infection;
  • Unhealthy dietary behaviors;
  • Inadequate physical activity.

The YRBSS was designed to:

  • Determine the prevalence of health risk behaviors;
  • Assess whether health risk behaviors increase, decrease, or stay the same over time;
  • Examine the co-occurrence of health risk behaviors;
  • Provide comparable data among subpopulations of youth;
  • Monitor progress toward achieving the Healthy People 2010 objectives and other program indicators.

San Francisco Unified School District has taken part in the YRBSS since 1991. The District data are used to monitor the health related behaviors of San Francisco’s youth, guide program planning, and evaluate some of the District’s school-based health programs. In addition, the District developed a supplemental survey in concert with ETR Associates, its evaluation contractor, to collect data on additional safety variables in order to gain a more in-depth student perspective on school climate issues.  This supplemental survey was administered with the Youth Risk Behavior Survey to the same students.

The Youth Risk Behavior Survey is administered to a random sample of classes at the middle and high school levels every other year. The average sample size across the years is approximately 2,000 students per survey.


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