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Conducting a YRBS (formerly Wisconsin Online YRBS)

Important changes for school year 2018-2019

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Please note the following changes and improvements.


DPI has made several changes to the State of Wisconsin and local YRBS:

  • A new software system! DPI is now using Qualtrics for YRBS data collection. This is the same survey software used by the University of Wisconsin system. Starting in August 2018, all new surveys should be conducted using this system. Surveys should not be created using the previous Online YRBS system (see below).
  • New process! After consulting with school, community, and state-level stakeholders, the following changes have been made to streamline the system and improve data quality.
    • Standardized timeframe: Moving forward, YRBS surveys will all be conducted in Spring semesters of odd-numbered years. This aligns with the State of Wisconsin YRBS, as well as the National YRBS.
    • For the 2018-2019 school year, schools can schedule their surveys between January 7-March 29, 2019.
      • For Fall 2018 only, schools that wish to administer a final Fall YRBS may do so, as long as they are not part of the CDC State of Wisconsin YRBS sample. Schools that are part of the sample were notified by mail in August.
    • Standardized questionnaires: Rather than allowing schools to create a questionnaire from our online question bank, the new system will feature standard high school and middle school questionnaires. This will reduce decision-making and allow for more consistent local, state, and national comparisons.
      • The standard high school and middle school surveys have been shortened slightly to allow schools to add a few extra questions if they wish, through selection of an optional module. Schools can choose to add ONE of four optional modules: a) Drug Free Communities Core Measures; b) Youth Tobacco Survey module; c) Adversity, Protective Factors, and Mental Health, d) Safe and Supportive Schools. Each module has 10-15 questions.
      • Note that the standard questionnaires do include at least some questions from all four of these topic areas. Thus, even if schools do not add a module, all schools will have at least some data on drug use, tobacco, mental health, and school climate.
    • Better integration with Wisconsin’s statewide survey, to reduce survey burden on schools. Data for the State of Wisconsin YRBS was previously collected on paper from only a sample of classrooms, and schools did not see their results. Sampled schools will now use the online system and they can opt to include all classrooms in order to get school-specific results.
    • More support for the creation of regional data (county and CESA)

How it works:


1. Register: (Revised 10/1). All Wisconsin public and private schools with eligible grade bands (6-8 for the middle school survey; 9-12 for the high school survey) can register for a YRBS survey. Each school can register once. (Note: This process may differ slightly for schools in the 2019 CDC/DPI State of Wisconsin sample, because DPI works directly with sample schools throughout the YRBS process.)

Update: Registration is now open for schools administering in the fall or spring! Here’s how to register:

a) DECIDE: Review the standard surveys and optional modules at the bottom of this page to decide which version of the survey you want. It is helpful to know the survey version and your preferred survey dates before completing the actual registration form.

b) REQUEST: The principal or anyone else involved in local YRBS efforts can use this YRBS Request for Registration form to request a form be sent to the principal. This process ensures that the principal has direct input in the registration process. (If the principal is initiating this process, they should still use this form because it is the process for generating a registration form.)

c) REGISTER: Once the principal receives the email with the registration form, they can either forward it to their designated contact to fill out, or else fill it out themselves. However, only one person should open the registration form. If you already know which version of the survey you want and when you plan to administer it, the registration process should take 5-10 minutes.

2. Receive your YRBS link: The information from the registration form will be used to set up your school’s YRBS link. The YRBS School Contact (who is named in the registration form) and school principal will receive emails with the link in advance of the scheduled survey date, along with instructions for survey administration.

3. Get your report: Reports of results will be emailed to principals and school contacts on a rolling basis starting in the spring. Schools should know that the reports will look different from previous years. More information on the report format will be forthcoming.

4. See if you have county and CESA level data: If enough schools in a county and CESA participate, then county and CESA level reports will also be generated and made available to participating county health departments and CESAs, who will be required to share the information with schools in their area as part of the terms of use. These reports will not show any school-specific results and will always include at least three (3) schools. Reports will only be generated if more than half of the public schools at a given level (middle school or high school) participate, and if the participation rates in those schools is at least 50 percent of students. County health departments and CESAs will be contacted during fall 2018 with the option of participating in this process. While county and CESA level data can be generated even without direct coordination, schools are encouraged to partner with their county health departments, CESAs, or local health coalitions during the survey registration process. In many cases, such partners can help schools in the data collection and analysis process.

Important Dates: Spring Survey (preferred)

  • Spring Registration: OPEN AS OF 10/17/2018  
  • January 7-March 29: YRBS survey administration window. Spring is the preferred survey window for all schools, as it will be the only survey administration period in the future. It is also the only window available to the 49 CDC/DPI State of Wisconsin sampled schools. All participating schools will have selected their survey date from within this date range during registration.
  • Spring: Exact dates TBD. Schools will receive a report of their results. Reports will be made available on a rolling basis depending on when the survey was completed. Allow up to 4 weeks to receive your reports.

Important Dates: Final Fall Survey option (read carefully)

  • Oct 1-November 1: Revised fall registration period. During this time, schools planning to administer a YRBS in the fall can register for their survey. Note that this window overlaps with the fall survey window (see below).
  • October 15-November 30: Revised fall YRBS survey window.  Schools that register for a fall survey can have students take the survey during this time.
    • Schools using the fall option should know that it will NOT be available in future years.
    • Only schools who have not been contacted by DPI to participate in the State of Wisconsin YRBS are eligible to participate in this final fall survey.
  • January: Schools taking their surveys in the fall can anticipate receiving their reports in January.

Use of the previous Online YRBS System

Schools who have used the outgoing OYRBS system in previous years should no longer use it for new surveys, although they may still use it to access existing reports. A plan for sunsetting that system is being developed and will be communicated to districts. DPI will work to ensure that all schools are given a significant amount of time to retrieve any pre-2018-19 data or reports they may need. Even after the system is shut down, there will still be ways for a school to request its old data.

2019 Survey Materials


Here are the questionnaires for the 2018-19 school year. Participating schools can opt for just the standard questionnaire (either high school or middle school level) or can choose one (1) of the supplemental modules provided here. (Note: this section is being updated and questionnaire materials are being added during September 2018.)

Wisconsin High School Standard Survey

Wisconsin 2019 Middle School YRBS

Wisconsin 2019 YRBS Optional Modules


Survey Resources for Schools


Assurance of Confidentiality of Survey Data

October 2018 Webinars for Schools and Stakeholders