MADISON — For the first time since the Department of Public Instruction has been conducting the Youth Risk Behavior Survey (YRBS), comparable, county-level data is now available across the state.

Participating schools have received local reports, and now, preliminary county-level data has been released for the public to view. Reports will be considered preliminary until Nov. 1, giving stakeholders an opportunity to provide any necessary corrections.

“The Youth Risk Behavior Survey includes questions about high-interest issues,” State Superintendent Carolyn Stanford Taylor said. “Important data from the survey can provide local information for schools, districts, and counties, and even health care organizations to get a better sense of health-related needs, and to plan for grants, programming, and for tracking how well interventions are performing.”

Behaviors monitored by the Wisconsin YRBS include traffic safety; weapons and violence; mental health and suicidality; tobacco use; alcohol and other drug use; sexual behavior; and diet, nutrition, and exercise. This year, new questions about vaping, sexting, concussions, and screen use at night were included.

In order to generate reports at the county level, several guidelines must be met. First, at least three schools in the county must participate in the survey. This means three high schools or three middle schools, not a combination. Second, either more than 50% of public schools in the area surveyed at least 50% of their students, or more than 50% of all public school students in the county participated. Counties with adequate participation rates, but only two eligible schools can get countywide data if both schools provide explicit authorization for the aggregation of their data.

Student responses are associated with a given county based on the county in which the school is located. When school districts serve students from two or more counties, all responses from that district become part of the county in which the district is officially located.

Since 1993, the Department of Public Instruction has administered the Youth Risk Behavior Survey to a representative sample of Wisconsin high school students every two years. The survey is part of a national effort by the United States Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to monitor health-risk behaviors of the nation’s high school students.

The statewide results and summary report will be available early next year.

County-level reports can be found at https://dpi.wi.gov/sspw/yrbs/online under “County and Regional Reports.” 

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