SVVSD reviews annual survey results
St. Vrain Valley School District officials reviewed the results of an annual, in-house student wellness survey at a school board meeting this week.
The district created the survey after deciding in 2015 to no longer participate in a statewide student survey that’s now called the Healthy Kids Colorado Survey. District officials have said the inhouse survey uses similar questions but allows the district to receive data more quickly and craft questions specific to the district.
About 75% of high school students took the online, 73-question Wellness, Culture and Safety Inventory in the fall.
A summary of the survey results included responses to questions about school safety, substance use, climate, bullying and mental health. The district didn’t provide the full survey results, and the summary results weren’t broken out by race, ethnicity, LGBTQ
identification, grade level or school.
School board members requested comparisons to state and national data, as well as asking about a flat trend in the school culture category. Most areas surveyed either stayed the same or improved since last year’s survey.
Johnny Terrell, assistant superintendent of student services, said it’s a positive that school culture numbers held steady through the pandemic.
“Decreases in attendance, engagement, you name it, we’re not seeing it in our school district,” he said.
A slightly smaller percentage of students, 85%, reported feeling safe at school than the previous year. Superintendent Don Haddad said the decrease may be linked to fears around school shootings, pointing to false threats of an active shooter called in to at least a dozen Colorado high schools — including Boulder High — on Wednesday.
“That creates another whole level of fear,” he said.
Also in the area of safety, 85% reported they haven’t experienced cyberbullying in the past year and 77% have never been bullied on school grounds.
In the mental health category, 69% agreed they have healthy ways to manage stress, while 44% indicated they are comfortable talking about feelings with others. About 54% reported they haven’t experienced sadness or hopelessness for extended
periods of time.
About 11% reported that they had contemplated suicide, down 2 percentage points from the previous year.
For substance abuse, healthy behaviors related to questions asked about marijuana have improved to 91% from 82% in 2015, according to the survey. The district didn’t provide results from specific questions on marijuana use.
About 98% indicated they had never driven after drinking alcohol, while 90% reported not drinking alcohol in the past 30 days. About 95% reported they hadn’t used an e-cigarette in the past 30 days.
On school climate topics, about 89% believe adults in their school respect and care about them. Another 67% feel students treat one another with respect, while 77% feel safe to express who they are at school. About 81% feel like they are part of their school.
Olga Cordero, executive director of equity and community engagement, said the district removes barriers to learning and values and respects diversity.
She noted the district has 19 gay/straight alliances, one in each middle and high school, and has added books to school libraries on family diversity and gender identity. Five years ago, she said, the district counted fewer than five gay/straight alliances.
“We have made it a priority,” she said.
Presenters at the school board meeting catalogued a long list of ways the district supports students, from strong academic programs to school equity training to summer school. The district in the past five years also hired an additional 21 school counselors, using a combination of district and grant funding.
Terrell said the district is continuing to help students develop a “championship mindset” and is encouraging teachers to incorporate three practices to help create a positive culture: a welcoming activity, engaging practices and an optimistic closure “to leave our students with a feeling of optimism and hope.”
“Each one of us really matters to make sure students are heard and seen,” he said.