The purpose of this application is to continue Massachusetts’ strong record of school-based surveillance to assess adolescent risk taking behaviors, the status of school health programs and policies which aim to prevent and reduce these behaviors, and using the information obtained to inform programs, policy and practices. The Massachusetts Department of Elementary and Secondary Education (DESE) is requesting $100,000 in funding to continue implementation of the Youth Risk Behavior Survey (YRBS) and School Health Profiles (Profiles). Over the next five years, DESE seeks to obtain weighted YRBS and Profiles data, increase state-wide and local awareness, involvement and support for school health programs and policies, increase state-wide awareness and local awareness of the prevalence of and trends in health-risk behaviors among students and increase statewide and local support for schools in reducing adolescent risk behaviors and promoting healthy decision making and living.
Statewide systematic monitoring of both critical health behaviors and outcomes (YRBS) and school health policies and programs (Profiles) is vitally important to construct a clear picture of what problems exist, what is improving, what may be getting worse and capturing disparities among youth populations across the more than 400 public school districts of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts. DESE will continue to coordinate the administration of the YRBS with the Massachusetts Department of Public Health’s (DPH) Youth Health Survey (YHS) which has proven successful since 2007. DESE and DPH will work collaboratively to develop the YRBS and YHS questionnaires. Through this coordinated effort, a survey contractor (UMass Center for Survey Research) will be hired to administer both surveys concurrently in participating schools. As in all previous administrations, CDC will draw the school sample and trained survey administrators will administer the surveys in selected classrooms using a standardized administration protocol. The Profiles will be conducted by census of all middle and high schools. All principals and lead health teachers will receive the questionnaires provided by CDC. As has been done in the past, DESE will add supplemental questionnaires that align with and support DESE priorities and initiatives. Results of both the YRBS/YHS and Profiles will be disseminated widely through summary reports, topic-specific reports, facts sheets and presentations. DESE has established protocols and procedures so that YRBS and Profiles data can be obtained and used by persons and agencies for program planning, grant applications or research. Massachusetts will continue to allow the use of this data for such purposes.