DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) — The state's largest school district said it is opting not to participate in a survey that identifies behavior trends and gathers data about risks such as drug and tobacco use confronted by Iowa students.
Des Moines School District spokesman Phil Roeder said school officials are conducting their own survey created by the Gallup company. Roeder told The Des Moines Register (http://dmreg.co/1rx3AAq ) that the district felt conducting both surveys would be redundant.
About 300 other Iowa districts, 88 percent of the public school districts in the state, are taking part in the biannual Iowa Youth Survey, which will be given to sixth-, eighth- and 11th-graders starting this week and continuing through Oct. 31.
Almost 71,000 students took the survey in 2012, continuing a trend of reduced participation since 2005, when 98,246 students completed it, said Patrick McGovern, Iowa Youth Survey coordinator at the Iowa Department of Public Health.
He said he hopes the number of students and districts participating will increase and noted that having students take about 30 minutes out of their day every other year is worth it.
Information gathered from the survey can help districts reduce risky behavior, McGovern said.
"That's to me the bottom line," he said. "What can we do to improve the students' chances for success?"
This year will be the second consecutive year the Des Moines School District has conducted the Gallup survey for fifth-through 12-graders. It won't ask about electronic cigarettes or synthetic marijuana like the Iowa Youth Survey will this year.
"The main focus is on the attitude of students, how hopeful they feel, how engaged they are with school and their sense of well-being," Roeder said.
While the number of students taking the Iowa Youth Survey has declined, some school officials say the biannual data offers a fresh review of risks faced in their communities.
Southeast Polk Superintendent Craig Menozzi said information from the survey helps counselors and administrators develop programs to combat issues such as bullying and substance abuse.
Information from: The Des Moines Register, http://www.desmoinesregister.com