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Conducting a YRBS

 

This page contains information for schools and community partners on how to register for, and participate in, the YRBS. Information on county, district, or school-level results is also available on this page. State-level results and reports are available on the Wisconsin YRBS webpage

SPRING 2021 UPDATE: Due to the extraordinary circumstances of COVID-19, the YRBS has been postponed from Spring 2021 until Fall 2021. Registration is now open!

Stay up-to-date by subscribing to the Wisconsin YRBS e-mail list by sending an email to subscribe-wi_yrbs_general@lists.dpi.wi.gov with the word “Subscribe” in the heading.

YRBS 2021 Administration Webinars and Q&A Sessions

DPI hosted various webinars throughout August to help stakeholders prepare for administering their Youth Risk Behavior Survey. Please see the link below this text for a recording of this training session. Topics ranged from parental notification strategies to survey testing and detailed instructions on required preparations, followed by a Q&A session. Attendance was not required as the sessions are posted on this page. DPI highly encourages school staff to review the recorded webinar ahead of survey administration to ensure a smooth data collection.

Administering the Youth Risk Behavior Survey 2021 (Webinar Recording)

When is the next YRBS?

The YRBS normally takes place during January to March of odd-numbered years (e.g., 2017, 2019, 2021).

Due to the pandemic, the 2021 YRBS was postponed from spring 2021 to fall 2021.The 2021 survey can be administered to students from September 7, 2021 to December 10, 2021.

For their own planning purposes, schools should select both a primary and a back-up date within that survey administration window to administer surveys during a period of the day or a required course.

Schools will be asked to provide their selected YRBS dates on the registration form, but are permitted to administer the survey during a different date within the survey administration window if needed.

Registration for the 2021 YRBS will open by mid-April and close by the end of the school year. Further registration information appears below.

 

Surveys and Optional Modules

YRBS surveys are designed for students in grades 6-12. All YRBS- administering schools must use either the standard high school survey (for grades 9-12) or the standard middle school survey (for grades 6-8). A small number of questions may change from one survey year to the next, based on CDC guidance and/or stakeholder feedback.

WI 2021 Standard High School YRBS

WI 2021 Standard Middle School YRBS

Optional Modules and Pilot Questions

  • In addition to the standard survey, during the registration process schools may opt to add one or two optional modules: 1) Drug-Free Communities Core Measures; 2) Youth Tobacco Survey; 3) Adversity and Protective Factors; and 4) Safe and Supportive Schools. Each module has 10-13 questions.
  • In addition to the four optional modules described above, schools surveying at the middle school level may add the four-question High-Risk Populations mini-module. This includes demographic questions that can help identify disparities between student groups. Those demographic questions appear on the standard high school survey but from the standard middle school survey. There are no additional topic areas covered in this mini-module.
What if my school has both middle school and high school grade levels?
Survey versions are determined by the grade level rather than the type of school. Students in grades 6-8 should take the middle school version, while students in grades 9-12 should take the high school version. Such schools can use one registration form to register for both versions of the standard survey.
 
Does my school need to add an optional module?
No.
 
Can a school just use the optional modules without a standard survey?
No.
 
What if we’re a Drug-Free Communities (DFC) grantee?
DFC grantees will need to select the DFC module (Module 1) in order to have all of the core measures required for the DFC grant.
 
Why create standard surveys?
In the past, Wisconsin schools could pick and choose questions from a sprawling online YRBS question bank. While this had the advantage of customization, it caused confusion and made it difficult to generate statistics that were useful above the school level. Even with the customization option, most schools gravitated towards topics covered in the State of Wisconsin YRBS. However, over time the old question bank contained many different versions of the same basic question, making it difficult for schools to make comparisons between their data and that of other places, or to produce municipal, county, or CESA (regional) statistics unless there was a deliberate effort at coordination. The different question versions also were problematic for schools if they switched between question versions from one year to the next. Because schools were not required to include any substantive questions or topics on their local YRBS surveys, in theory, two neighboring districts could each administer their own “YRBS” without having any questions in common with one another or with the State of Wisconsin YRBS.
 
How were the questions for the standard surveys selected?
 
High School Survey: The standard high school survey that is available to all high schools is now the same as the CDC/DPI State of Wisconsin YRBS which is used to generate official state-level statistics. This will allow for direct comparisons between state and local data, as well as significant overlap with national YRBS results. Wisconsin’s high school survey combines CDC requirements with recent and long-standing Wisconsin questions.
Middle School Survey: Wisconsin has never conducted a formal, statewide middle school survey. In the old online YRBS system, the default questions were set to mirror that year’s high school survey. While most schools did use those standard surveys, there was a lot of variation among middle school surveys.
Questions on the 2019 standard middle school survey were determined based on:
Including the middle school equivalent of most high school questions.
Incorporating questions or topics that have been most frequently used in local Wisconsin middle school surveys in recent years.
Incorporating stakeholder feedback about key topics.
 
What are the main differences between the middle school and high school surveys?
Length: the middle school survey is much shorter than the high school survey.
Emphasis: The middle school survey has more of an emphasis on protective factors and fewer questions about sexual behavior or other sensitive topics. This reflects the emphasis of most middle school YRBS in recent years, and so attempts to match the survey to community norms as well as students’ development.
 
What if there are topics on the surveys that my school doesn’t need or want?
  • The YRBS is designed to cover many different areas broadly related to health and wellness. The results are used by stakeholders across a wide array of health-related areas. While some schools may only directly care about one or two topic areas, in general, the YRBS is a powerful tool precisely because it does provide data across several different topics. Every topic covered is valued by a national, state, or local set of stakeholders.
  • The YRBS covers sensitive topics. Schools cannot exclude questions, but students can skip any questions that make them feel uncomfortable. Students can also opt out of the survey altogether if they or their parents wish.
What if my school wants to administer the survey every year, or in non-survey years?
Surveys will not be available outside of the survey window Standardized survey windows and questionnaires help produce high quality results across Wisconsin.
Registering for a YRBS

Formal registration for the YRBS has closed as of Friday, August 13th, 2021. If you are still interested in registering, please reach out to Sarah Calvin (608) 264 9548.

Want to see whether a school has already registered? Use this YRBS Registered Schools Lookup. This form allows users to identify whether a school is registered and if so, the individual who registered, the survey administration dates, and any optional modules that a school may have chosen to add to their survey.

To register, you will need to know:

  • Which survey(s) you will administer (middle school, high school, or both)
  • Whether you will add any optional module, and if so, which
  • The proposed date and back-up date for your survey
  • See the Surveys and Optional Modules section for detailed information that you can use to make decisions.

Who can register?

  • Any authorized school or district staff member
  • A non-staff member who is authorized by the school or district. Non-staff members can include local health officials, CESA staff, or any other local partners involved in the school’s YRBS efforts. To register a school, they need to provide the name and email of the school staff member who asked them to register on the school’s behalf. The principal will receive copies of the completed registration form and can notify DPI if the registration should not have been authorized.
  • Regardless of who registers a school, county-wide coordination and participation is highly encouraged to increase the likelihood of obtaining county-level results. Local health departments, CESA staff or other local partners (e.g., health coalitions, UW-Extension, etc.) may be willing to help coordinate and promote the YRBS in your area.

What if I started registering but then stopped before finishing?

  • Partially completed forms are not considered valid. If you started a registration form but stopped part way through, you will need to start from the beginning.
  • Fully completed forms will display a “thank you” message at the end and you will be sent a copy of your responses. If those steps don’t happen, your form is not complete.

What if I completed the registration form but then need to make changes?

  • The person who registered the school will receive an emailed copy of their responses.
  • Near the bottom of that document is a “Retake Link”
  • Copy and paste that link into your browser (double-clicking may not work to open the link). You should be able to use a different device but the person changing the responses must be the same person who originally registered the school. Do not change your contact information.
  • The retake link should then display the completed survey from the beginning with your school’s submitted responses in place.
  • Click past any responses that do not need to be changed. Only change what needs to be changed.
  • Continue through to the end of the form and the “thank you” message to ensure that changes are fully recorded.

Is there a way to try out the registration form before actually registering?

  • Yes. Open the YRBS Registration form. 
  • When prompted to select a district and school, select “Practice” district and “Public School” or “Private School” as the name of the school.
  • Private schools also need to select “Fake County”.
  • You will not receive a copy of practice responses.
  • Remember that any answers you provide for the “Practice” district are NOT real and do not count towards your actual registration form.
  • When you are ready to actually register your school, you will click on the YRBS Registration Form and answer all questions for the actual school(s) you wish to register.
What’s Different for CDC/DPI Sampled Schools?

CDC/DPI sampled schools are the approximately 50 high schools selected at the beginning of a YRBS cycle to represent the state as a whole for Wisconsin’s official, statewide YRBS statistics. Such schools are notified by DPI of their selection at the beginning of the year. Most schools taking the YRBS are not part of this group.

  • Registration
    • DPI directly contacts sampled schools with a registration link that is specific to their school.
    • If a “Request for Registration” form is submitted for a sample school, and the sample school has not already registered, DPI is notified and communicates with the school and the requester.
  • Classroom sampling
    • Sampled schools choose to administer their survey either during a required period or during a required course, and provide the relevant course list to DPI. DPI then works with CDC to sample classrooms from among that list for inclusion in official state statistics. Schools can choose whether they want to just survey those sampled classrooms or to survey the whole school. Surveying the sampled classrooms only meets CDC/DPI requirements but does not produce enough data on the school as a whole to produce a school-specific report. For that reason, many sampled schools opt to survey school-wide. Sampled schools also have a few different procedures on their survey administration date based on CDC requirements.
  • Will sampled school data be part of county and regional reports?
    • Sampled schools have the option of either surveying their whole school or only surveying a few sampled classrooms selected by DPI. Sampled schools that opt to survey the whole school will get reports from their data, and the school’s data will also contribute to the county and CESA reports. Sampled schools that only survey sampled classrooms will not get their schools’ results, and the data will not be used towards county or CESA reports. While the sampled classrooms are vital for the State of Wisconsin statistics, they are not sufficient to represent that school.
  • Will sampled schools get their results?
    • As described above, sampled schools that survey the whole school will get their results.
  • How are schools sampled?
    • Every two years, DPI submits a sampling frame to CDC of public schools that include 9th, 10th, 11th, or 12th grades. CDC then uses a method called “probability proportional to size” to select schools from that list based on the number of students they have. Within those schools, required classrooms or class periods are sampled for inclusion in the state dataset. This allows each eligible public high school student in Wisconsin an equal chance of selection.
  • How can the process be random if my school has been selected before?
    • The sampling process equalizes the chance that individual students will be selected, not schools. Large schools have more students, and therefore a higher probability of selection. Small schools are always part of the sample, but it’s much less likely that any given small school will be in the sample several times.
  • Now online
    • Prior to the 2018-19 school year, CDC mandated that all sampled schools participate via paper. In Wisconsin, this meant that sampled schools only surveyed their CDC/DPI sampled classrooms and did not get school-level results. If they wanted school-level results, they had to use DPI’s OYRBS system to do so. The new system allows sampled schools to use the same online system and get the same results as other schools.
School and District-Level Results

How will schools access their reports?

  • Starting in 2019, school and district-level reports are available for authorized school or district users through Secure Home’s Secure Access File Exchange (SAFE) reporting module.
  • LOG IN HERE to access school and district reports

Who can access school and district YRBS reports?

The SAFE district security administrator may authorize any school or district staff member as a SAFE report viewer (see steps below). Aside from administrators, YRBS results are particularly relevant to school counselors, psychologists, social workers, nurses, and health teachers. Reports have been redacted to protect student privacy. No individual student information is included and statistics are not generated for very small groups of students.

Once reports have been accessed through SAFE, schools may also share their results with external stakeholders such as health departments, community coalitions, school boards, etc. Results are intended to help schools and communities better understand and support their student population. Please note that in many cases, county and/or CESA results are available and can be used for local discussions where there is discomfort with using school-level results. Even state and national results can paint a picture of the types of issues facing almost any school.

What do I need to access this system?

To access reports, authorized school personnel will need:

  1. A WAMS ID. If you don’t have a WAMS ID, follow the instructions on the Secure Home Information page. Most staff who do not have a WAMS ID will probably need “Application User (Level 3 Security)” access for the YRBS reports.
  2. Access to the Secure Access File Exchange (SAFE) system within ASM Secure Home.
    • If you have access to Secure Home but not to SAFE, look up your district on the ASM Security Administrator page.
      • Hit the “Administrator Availability” link on the right-hand side
        • Look for a role that says “Secure Access File Exchange (SAFE)”
        • If such a role exists, hit the blue “Request Access” button. Your district’s administrator will be notified that you are requesting access. 
        • If the role does not exist, your District Security Administrator will need to create the role for your district. See the Secure Home Information page for details.
        • If you are struggling to access your school or district results, please see the SAFE homepage and the Secure Home Information Page for more details. Otherwise, please submit a help desk ticket.
  3. Specific access to the YRBS role (if you don’t already have access to all reports). You can request this role within SAFE as part of your request process. SAFE users with higher levels of security access may automatically see YRBS reports.

Still need help? Questions can be directed to DPI’s customer services team help desk: https://dpi.wi.gov/wisedash/help/ticket

How and when do I see data from local surveys conducted prior to the 2018-19 school year?

  • The previous online YRBS system is no longer in use. Archived data (not reports, charts, or graphs) are stored by DPI. Schools were strongly encouraged to save their versions of reports from the old system before it went offline, but such reports are not part of DPI’s archived YRBS data. Requests for YRBS data from the retired online YRBS system are part of DPI’s data request process. See the DPI Data Request page for more information.
County and Regional Reports

The folders below contain the 2019 YRBS reports for counties and CESAs with sufficient local data.

CESA Reports (High School)

CESA Reports (Middle School)

 

What does it take to generate regional data?

YRBS 2019 county-level or CESA reports are produced if:

A) At least three public schools in the county or CESA were surveyed for a given grade band. That means three public high schools for a high school report or three public middle schools for a middle school report. (If a county or CESA only surveyed two schools, a report is only generated with the active, written permission of both schools.)

AND EITHER:

B) More than 50% of public schools in the area successfully surveyed at least 50% of their students at that grade level (e.g., high school students for high school reports; middle school students for middle school reports).

OR

C) More than 50% of all public school students in the county or CESA were successfully surveyed (e.g., high school students for high school reports; middle school students for middle school reports).

Private schools were also able to participate, but their participation or non-participation was not used as a condition for generating reports. Wisconsin's statewide statistics are based on public schools only.

What if I don’t see a report for my county or CESA?

If the conditions outlined above are not met, no county-level or CESA report was produced.

 

Exception for two-school counties

Counties or with adequate participation rates, but only two participating schools in the county, can get countywide data if both schools provide explicit authorization for the aggregation of their data. To authorize such a report, authorized representatives from each school and/or district should email permission to katherine.mccoy@dpi.wi.gov. The message should authorize the combination of that school’s data with data from the other school, and also acknowledge that they understand that their county report will consist of data from only those two schools. PDFs of letters on official letterhead are appreciated.

Results prior to 2019

The 2019 YRBS cycle was the first time that DPI was able to produce standardized, county-level reports. Prior to 2019, many counties did use the previous OYRBS system to make their own version of a YRBS survey and report. Unfortunately, DPI does not have copies of local reports produced before 2019. Local stakeholders involved in those earlier surveys may have copies of their local reports from that time.

Survey Resources for Schools

This section contains tips and documents that can help schools prepare for their YRBS survey.  Many of these documents are also attached to the email schools receive upon registration.

Can’t find a YRBS email? Check your spam folder. Although we strive to spam-proof all communications, in some districts the YRBS communications do get routed to spam.

Consent Forms

Opt-Out Form (Passive Parental Permission Form)

Opt-In Form (Active Parental Permission Form)

Translated Forms

Thank you to Milwaukee Public Schools for providing translations of a passive parental permission form into several languages. Note that the English version upon which these translations are based differs slightly from the current version we are using. The English version of these translations appears at the end of this list.

Passive Parental Permission-Hmong

Passive Parental Permission-Karen

Passive Parental Permission-Rohingya

Passive Parental Permission-Somali

Passive Parental Permission-Spanish

English Basis for Passive Parental Permission Translations