Highlights from the Iowa Youth Survey, including areas of concern, were shared with members of the Emmetsburg Community Schools Board of Education at their September meeting.
"The Iowa Youth Survey is a survey that our students in grades 6, 8, and 11 take every other year," said Emmetsburg High School/Middle School Principal Jay Jurrens. "They ask over 100 questions about whether they're eating healthy, whether they exercise, and lots of questions about their school."
The information gathered is used by numerous organizations such as health organizations for needs and grants on the health and wellness of children, law enforcement agencies for drug/alcohol/safety enforcement issues, school districts for education issues, and others.
"It gives us a good snapshot of what's going on here in the school and what students' perceptions are," Jurrens said. "This year, I had my Specials teachers (P.E., art, guidance, industrial technology, home ec., FFA) get together and began analyzing this data."
Among the highlights presented were:
99-percent of Emmetsburg students perceived school as a safe place (this includes having things stolen or damaged and being physically harmed).
"In 2008, it was 98-percent. This has always been a high number for us," said Jurrens. "One of the questions asks about items being stolen or physically damaged and it surprised me that this number was so high because, truthfully, we've had some theft issues."
94-percent of students reported no alcohol use in previous 30 days of survey. This compares to 83-percent in 2008.
"This was a big jump and I was glad to see that," Jurrens noted.
86-percent of students indicated they care about school and doing their best. This compares to 73-percent in 2008.
"This is a real positive thing," said Jurrens.
53-percent of students reported not being bullied/teased/harassed in the previous 30 days. This compares to 35-percent in 2008.
"Bullying remains a concern, but we are making progress. We really worked hard as a building and district to raise that percentage. We tried to give our students some tools to use when bullying happens, and our Specials teachers are creating a plan to continue addressing that issue," Jurrens noted. "It's interesting to note that 94-percent of all students reported not experiencing any type of electronic bullying."
83-percent of students saw drinking, smoking, fighting, and/or doing drugs as "wrong." This compares to 71-percent of students in 2008.
"They also don't think that their peers would look down on them for having that attitude, which is good," Jurrens added. "There seems to be less peer pressure on this issue and indicates a shift in their mind set."
Areas of concern cited by Jurrens included:
35-percent of Emmetsburg students had concerns with clearly defined boundaries/expectations in school. This compares to 24-percent in 2008.
"The students are saying that we're not clear on what our boundaries and rules are," said Jurrens.
47-percent of students had concerns with staff supporting them. This compares to 46-percent in 2008.
Jurrens noted, "This is something we've got to get addressed and take care of."
51-percent of students had concerns that school adults don't stop bullying. This compares to 47-percent in 2008.
"That one is unacceptable. My team is working on a survey to give to students to see if the students are seeing something they consider is bullying that school adults do not," said Jurrens.
School board member Karla Anderson asked if Jurrens has been seeing less good conduct violations.
"So far this year, we've seen less. Last year we had more than in a normal year," Jurrens answered. "This survey is almost a year old; the students took it last October, 2010. But we just got the results last week."
"We did something like this when I was in high school," noted board member Scott Kibbie. "At that time, it was down around 50-percent that reported no alcohol use, so there has been major improvement there, and bullying was a lot higher, also."
"I think we're more aware of it," said Jurrens. "The results of bullying are more severe now. Bullying is wrong. We want people to feel safe and want to come to school and learn."
The 2010 Iowa Youth Survey results may be viewed online in their entirety at: