SVVSD Releases Results of In-house Student Wellness Survey

December 17, 2018

St. Vrain Valley’s high school students report drinking less than the previous school year, but were more likely to try vaping, based on results from the district’s in-house student wellness survey.

The district first piloted the Wellness, Culture and Safety Inventory four years ago at about half its high schools, giving it to students at all its high schools for the past three years.

About 69 percent of St. Vrain’s high school students took the voluntary, anonymous survey in October, up from 65 percent respondents last year.

Diane Lauer, assistant superintendent of priority programs, noted some positive changes, including that 82 percent reported not drinking alcohol in the past month — up five percentage points from the previous year.

“Our students are making very responsible choices,” she said.

About 82 percent also reported not experiencing cyberbullying in the last year, an improvement over last year of two percentage points.

“Our schools have worked diligently around digital citizenship,” Lauer said. “This has really been a whole community effort to really ensure that our students are using social media and engagements wisely.”

And while more students, 14 percent, reported using e-ciagarettes in the last month, that’s still below the 2017 state average of 26 percent, she said.

Other positives are that 97 percent of students feel like it’s important to graduate from high school, 96 percent have plans for their future, 88 percent like their schools and 89 percent believe adults in their schools respect and care about them.

About three-fourth of students reported that they hadn’t been bullied in the last year, while 78 percent felt safe to express who they are at school.

Lauer said the district’s efforts to become more inclusive include making sure every secondary school has a gay-straight alliance and training more than 400 staff members in gender equity and family diversity.

The district also is developing family and community partnerships to reach vulnerable populations, she said.

“This is some really important work for us,” she said.

On mental health, about a third of students reported experiencing sadness or hopelessness for extended periods, while about 14 percent had contemplated suicide.

District leaders said the results of the survey are helping them target resources as they work to improve student mental health and school culture.

This fall, the district added eight counselors and 20 intervention specialists, as well as adding more school resource officers. St. Vrain also plans to apply for grants to add more counselors in future years.

The district is using the InFocus program, which teaches which teaches social emotional skills, in its elementary schools, along with piloting the 7 Mindsets program in three middle schools.

St. Vrain Valley created its in-house survey after deciding in 2015 to no longer participate in a statewide student risk behavior survey.

The advantages to an in-house survey include getting the data back faster and the ability to add school climate questions, district officials have said.

The survey also provides school-by-school data instead of being limited to district level data, officials said, and students can take it in just 20 to 30 minutes on an iPad.

What St. Vrain’s survey doesn’t provide is the comparisons to state and national data that are part of the Healthy Kids Colorado survey. Because St. Vrain’s survey is half as long, it also doesn’t cover as many topics.

District officials noted that they look at similar questions from the Healthy Kids Colorado survey to make some state comparisons.

Amy Bounds: 303-473-1341, boundsa@dailycamera.com or twitter.com/boundsa

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