SB 101, Student Questionnaires and Surveys (sponsor Senator_Bettye_Davis@legis.state.ak.us) is scheduled for a hearing in the House Health and Social Services Committee on Tuesday, February 2nd. This bill allows for passive parental consent for students taking the Youth Risk Behavior Survey (YRBS.)
PLEASE Contact House H&SS Committee members before the 3 p.m. hearing on Tuesday. Testify in favor of the bill from you local Legislative Information Office at the hearing on Tuesday. To find your office: http://w3.legis.state.ak.us/misc/lios.php
House H&SS Committee
Co-Chair: Representative_Wes_Keller@legis.state.ak.us 800-468-2186
Co-Chair: Representative_Bob_Herron@legis.state.ak.us 800-323-4942
Vice Chair: Representative_Tammie_Wilson@legis.state.ak.us 800-860-4797
Members: Representative_Bob_Lynn@legis.state.ak.us 800-870-4931
What the bill does:
The bill maintains and strengthens current parent notification provisions. It ensures that parents are informed that the survey will be given, provides for the opportunity to review survey content, and allows parents to choose not to allow their children to participate.
What the YRBS is:
The YRBS is an anonymous, school-based survey with a middle school and high school version. It is a nationally recognized and administered survey instrument developed by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC.) It is conducted every two years. It is completely anonymous. No identifying information is given and the surveys are immediately put into sealed envelopes to be turned into the state. The survey is administered through cooperation between the state Department of Education and Early Development, the Department of Health and Social Services, and local school districts. Data from this survey provides accountability for programs to address identified needs and is used for grant applications for needed programs.
Why we need the law changed:
The current law, requiring signed permission slips for any student to participate, unnecessarily hinders data collection needed to design and evaluate risk prevention programs and services to protect our youth. The state spent about $90,000 last year on incentives to support getting permission slips returned. This is in addition to extra staff time and costs incurred by local school districts. Over the last decade, the survey has had years of not meeting the necessary sample size to have valid data or has barely made the cut off for valid data, but with a higher margin of error than a larger sample size would have provided.
SB101 recognizes the need to keep parents informed and given opportunities for engagement. It balances this with the need to keep administrative burden to a minimum, resulting in a bill that supports both parental involvement and the ability to better serve our youth.