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Student Health Survey: Frequently Asked Questions

General Questions For Schools For Students For Parents


General Questions

The Student Health Survey (SHS) survey is a comprehensive, school-based, anonymous and voluntary survey about health behaviors. It is a key part of statewide efforts to help local schools and communities ensure that all Oregon youth are healthy and successful learners.

​Because healthy kids learn better.

No curriculum is brilliant enough to compensate for a hungry stomach or a distracted mind. Good health is an essential educational tool.

Research shows that healthy students have better attendance, get higher grades and test scores and are less likely to skip school, drop out, or engage in risky behaviors.

​The Student Health Survey (SHS) is open to 6th, 8th and 11th graders in Oregon public schools.

The SHS will launch in schools in the fall of 2020 and occur every even-numbered year. The SHS is available in paper-and-pencil or a web-based format. Schools select the survey method which best suits their needs.​

Many state and local agencies rely on SHS data for adolescent programs and services that address important student health issues. 

The SHS is a comprehensive survey that asks about the whole child to get a more complete picture of students’ health. Getting data on many different health-related topics helps to find the link between protective factors, risk, and outcomes. 

The SHS asks about resilience factors and risk behaviors that directly impact students’ health and well-being, such as:

  • General health (physical, emotional and mental health, and oral health)
  • Health conditions and access to care
  • Support at school
  • Community engagement
  • Absenteeism
  • Emerging public health issues, such as the use of e-cigarettes/vaping
  • School climate
  • Bullying (online and at school)
  • Substance use (tobacco, e-cigarettes/vaping, alcohol, marijuana and prescription drugs)
  • Individual, peer, and family influences on risk behaviors
  • Violence-related behaviors
  • Injury prevention, including impaired driving, school safety, and suicide
  • Diet and exercise
  • Sexual behavior relating to the prevention of unintended pregnancies and STDs
  • Demographics, including race, ethnicity, disabilities, socio-economic indicators, sexual orientation and gender identity to address health disparities

No. Asking youth about sensitive topics does not harm them and does NOT encourage these behaviors.

The CDC (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention) states that there is no evidence that simply asking students about health risk behaviors encourages that behavior. The only way to determine if adolescents are at risk is to ask.

Questions are age-appropriate and presented in a straightforward and sensitive manner. Students can choose not to answer any question that may make them uncomfortable.

​No. Participating in the survey is voluntary at every level. The district, school, parent/guardian and student all have a choice in participating in the survey. Students can also skip any question they don’t feel comfortable answering.​

Protecting student confidentiality and anonymity is paramount to getting truthful answers.

Surveys are more accurate when students believe their answers cannot be linked to them. The SHS does not ask for any identifying information, and it is not possible to link survey responses to a particular student, parent or family.

Sometimes students do exaggerate. But survey data from adolescents are as reliable as data collected from adults. Internal reliability and logic checks help identify the small percentage of exaggerated or falsified answers.

​Have questions about the survey?

Email StudentHealth.Survey@dhsoha.state.or.us​ and we’ll respond as quickly as we can.​

Download General FAQ

For Schools

The Student Health Survey (SHS) provides a snapshot of how your students are doing physically, emotionally and socially.

Educators and school staff recognize that the academic success of Oregon students is impacted by factors outside of the classroom. Protective factors, such as supportive adults at school, lead to better health and education outcomes. Trauma, hunger, mental health challenges, bullying and lack of access to necessary medical care make it difficult for Oregon youth to reach their full potential. The Student Health Survey (SHS) provides the sole source of statewide data on the health and well-being of Oregon youth.

SHS data can inform your school’s needs assessment and strategic planning.

Survey topics provide data that can help you directly address components of the SSA and Student Investment Account. The SHS asks about resilience factors and risk behaviors that directly impact students’ health.

The SHS provides students with the chance to tell us how they’re doing and where they need our support in each of the following domains:

Social Emotional Learning/Mental Health

  • Emotional and mental health
  • Adverse childhood experiences (ACE)
  • Depression, suicide ideation and attempts, access to a loaded gun

​Health Status

  • Physical health
  • Oral health
  • Obesity (based on self-reported height and weight)
  • Nutrition
  • Exercise
  • Sexual health relating to the prevention of unintended pregnancies and STIs

School Climate

  • Allies/adult support at school
  • Respect for diversity
  • Safety
  • Bullying (victimization and perpetration)

Social Determinants of Health

  • Housing instability
  • Hunger
  • Economic status (free- or reduced-price lunch)

Access and Opportunity

  • Access to health care services (school-based health centers, urgent care, oral health care)
  • Unmet emotional and mental health needs
  • Unmet physical health needs

Risk and Assets

  • Positive youth development
  • Absenteeism
  • Grades
  • Healthy relationships
  • Exposure to violence
  • Substance use (alcohol, tobacco, e-cigarettes/vaping, marijuana, prescription drugs)
  • Perceived risk, parental and peer norms
  • Gambling

Disparities

SHS results can also help in exploring and addressing disparities based on students’:

  • Race, ethnicity and tribal affiliation
  • Sexual orientation and gender identity
  • Economic standing, based on free-or reduced-price lunches under the United States Department of Agriculture’s current income eligibility guidelines
  • Disability status
  • Language other than English spoken at home
  • Housing instability

Schools get comprehensive data on their students’ health and well-being...at no cost.

All participating districts and schools receive a report of their own results with statewide comparisons that allow you to identify whether the problem is a local issue or is part of a larger social trend among Oregon youth. This information is at your fingertips and can be used for needs assessment, as supporting evidence for staff or program requests, to inform curriculum decisions, and as a program evaluation tool to monitor outcomes.​

No, survey administration is in the fall to avoid conflicting with state assessments.

The SHS will launch in schools with 6th, 8th and 11th graders in the fall of 2020 and occur every even-numbered year. The SHS is available in paper-and-pencil or web-based formats – schools select the survey method which best suits their needs.

We'll start contacting districts and schools before the end of the 2019-2020 school year.

​SHS touches on all domains most relevant to schools and the Student Success Act.

The SHS is comprehensive and focuses on the whole child. Other youth surveys focus on one or two areas. The SHS and other youth surveys can complement each other.​

Protecting student confidentiality is paramount, and the SHS is anonymous and confidential.

Surveys are more accurate when students believe their answers cannot be linked to them. The SHS does not ask for any identifying information, and it is not possible to link survey responses to a particular student, parent or family.

Sometimes students do exaggerate. But survey data from adolescents are as reliable as data collected from adults. Internal reliability and logic checks help identify the small percentage of exaggerated or falsified answers.

A minimum number of completed surveys are required for school, district and county-level reporting for confidentiality and validity. Some data are suppressed or combined for public use datasets to protect respondent confidentiality. ​

OHA endorses an active parental notification/passive parental permission model to get the most accurate results.

The SHS uses a passive parental permission model, where parents are notified of the survey and can return a signed form to the school if they choose to excuse their student from the survey. The benefits of active parental notification with passive parental permission are that it:

  • Supports parental rights by informing them of the survey, providing them with the opportunity to review the survey and the opportunity to opt their child out of the survey by returning the signed form to the school.
  • Results in a higher response rate, more accurate results, and is more inclusive. Passive parental consent ensures that students with different backgrounds, cultures and experiences are represented in the survey. Passive consent ensures that results are unbiased, accurate, and representative of the student population.
  • Meets Federal requirements regarding parental notification since student participation is not required, and the survey does not use Department of Education funding.
  • Reduces administrative burden on schools by avoiding the time needed to spend on communications and follow-up to make sure parents receive and return consent forms. It also minimizes the time required to track returned forms.
​Schools should send the parental notification letters at least two weeks before the survey date. Use a direct method (mail or email) to send the letters to parents/guardians notifying them of the survey and giving them sufficient time to review the survey (online or have hard copies at the front office) and return the form to the front office if they choose to have their child not participate.

Our Student Resources page includes links to help youth with physical, mental or emotional health issues. If you prefer to print out these resources, there is a link to download a PDF at the bottom of the page.

​Have questions about the survey?

Email StudentHealth.Survey@dhsoha.state.or.us​ and we’ll respond as quickly as we can.​

Download School FAQ

For Students

We want to hear how you’re doing.

Healthy kids learn better. The Student Health Survey (SHS) is your chance to tell us how you’re doing and where you might need help. The survey tells us what issues are of greatest concern and where to focus our efforts. We ask about a lot of things so we can get a better picture of how students in Oregon are doing physically, mentally and socially.

​No. But it's the only way we'll know how students are doing physically, emotionally and socially.

It's your choice whether or not to answer the questions. We would greatly appreciate your taking the time to answer the questions.​

​You don’t have to answer any question you don’t want to.

If you don’t know how to answer a question or it makes you feel uncomfortable, just skip to the next question.​

​No! No one will know your answers.

The survey is confidential and anonymous. There's no way we can identify you or know how you answer the questions.

The survey takes one classroom period to complete.

Based on feedback from students around Oregon, we designed the survey to be easily completed in a classroom period.​

No. 

The is not a test, and it won't affect your grades. There are no right or wrong answers. Answer each question as honestly as you can. Again, no one will know how you answer.​

​Have questions about the survey?

Email StudentHealth.Survey@dhsoha.state.or.us​ and we’ll respond as quickly as we can.​

Download Student FAQ

For Parents

Because healthy kids learn better.

Good health is an essential educational tool. No curriculum is brilliant enough to compensate for a hungry stomach or a distracted mind. Protective factors, such as supportive adults at school, lead to better health and education outcomes. Trauma, hunger, mental health challenges, bullying and lack of access to necessary medical care make it difficult for Oregon youth to reach their full potential.

Research shows that healthy students have better attendance, get higher grades and test scores and are less likely to skip school, drop out, or engage in risky behaviors.

The Student Health Survey is the only source of statewide data that gives a snapshot of how students are doing physically, emotionally and socially.

No. Your child’s privacy (and yours) are protected.

The SHS is an anonymous and confidential survey. We do not ask for any identifying information, and it is not possible to link survey responses to a particular student, parent or family.

Population-based data guides local policy discussions about issues that affect students’ health, well-being and resilience.

The Student Health Survey (SHS) enables schools and communities to know how many students are devel​oping successfully and how many are having problems. Schools can then focus on improving outcomes for young people. It is an important tool that schools and communities can use to identify problems and measure progress towards addressing them.​

​Fill out the bottom of the parental notification form and return it to the school office.

We respect parents’ decisions and have made it easy for you to opt your child out of the survey. Simply fill in the bottom of the parental notification form sent by the school, sign it, and return it to the school’s front office. The school will make sure that your child does not take the survey.​

No. Research shows that asking youth about sensitive topics does NOT harm them and does NOT get them to try it.

The CDC (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention) states that there is no evidence that simply asking students about health risk behaviors encourages that behavior. The only way to determine if adolescents are at risk is to ask.

Some of the survey questions may be considered sensitive. Questions are age-appropriate and presented in a straightforward and sensitive manner. Students can choose not to answer any question that may make them uncomfortable.​

A copy of the questionnaire is available on our we​bsite, or at your school's front office. There are separate questionnaires for 6th, 8th and 11th grade.

The SHS asks about resilience factors and risk behaviors that directly impact students’ health and well-being, including:

  • Support at school
  • Community engagement
  • Absenteeism
  • Emerging public health issues, such as e-cigarette use
  • Food insecurity, nutrition and physical activity
  • Physical, emotional and mental health
  • Injury prevention (impaired driving, suicide, the choking game and non-consensual sex)
  • Sexual health relating to the prevention of unintended pregnancies and STIs
  • Substance use (e-cigarettes, tobacco, alcohol, marijuana and prescription drug use)
  • Demographics, including race, ethnicity, and sexual and gender identity, to assess health disparities

​Have questions about the survey?

Email StudentHealth.Survey@dhsoha.state.or.us​ and we’ll respond as quickly as we can.​

Download Parent FAQ

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