The release of the 2018 Youth Voice survey report is just around the corner!  The Survey was first completed in 2014.  (You can learn more about it here).  The design and development of the survey varied from the previous one administered in 2014.  The changes in this year’s survey were based on crucial input from students, school representatives, and community members who expressed the desire for the survey to be relevant to youth and the findings to be captured in a way that allowed everyone to easily utilize them.

The Search Institute in Minneapolis made initial adjustments to the survey in early 2018 based on several factors:

  • statistical analyses to determine which survey items were less valuable from a measurement perspective,
  • what information was used and wasn’t used in the 2014 survey,
  • the SPARK Council’s strategic plan, and
  • the identification and removal of areas that are adequately covered in the Minnesota Student Survey (MSS).

Following these adjustments, a team from the Search Institute met with school representatives from IASC districts who expressed interest in including additional topics related to SPARK’s pathway.  These additions included social media use and relationships, school safety and belonging, and options for several open-ended questions.

Youth input was crucial to survey development

Next, Search Institute met with students from high schools in Floodwood and Grand Rapids to get their input on the survey format and discuss the best way to report the findings.  Students shared that they liked the length of the survey because they felt the questions were relevant to them and they especially liked the open-ended questions because it allowed them to have their voices heard in their own words.

Gene Roehlkepartain, Search Institute, has worked with the Itasca Youth Voices Survey since 2013.

Gene Roehlkepartain, Search Institute, has worked with the Itasca Youth Voices Survey since 2013.

Gene Roehlkepartian of the Search Institute said that the community and its youth were really invested in making the changes to the survey.  “Young people really helped us focus on the questions that they were interested in talking about,” said Roehlkepartian.  In 2014 there was some student involvement in the development of the survey, but Roehlkepartian said it was significantly less.  “We were focused on making sure that the measures were widely used before.  This time we were more focused on what was relevant to young people.”

Based on these conversations with students and school representatives, the survey language was revised.  While some items will remain the same so we can look at trends over time, some items were changed completely to make them more relevant to the students’ experiences.  It was also determined that the report should be written specifically for students to understand and analyze.

Youth leadership in promotion of the survey

Students also shared ideas about the best ways to promote the survey and spark interest with their peers.  Grand Rapids High School students created a promotional video to encourage students to complete the survey.

Roehlkepartian noted that there was a much higher participation this year and that trust, buy-in, and readiness for the data seemed apparent among schools.  He attributes much of this attitude to the SPARK team and the work they have been doing to create the momentum for the work.

Community prepare for preliminary survey results released later this week

School administrators are anticipating the release of information next week.  Hill City superintendent Pat Rendle and school counselor Kari Person are eager take the information from the report to share with their community.  “The information will help educate the local community and businesses about connections with kids,” said Rendle.  “We’re looking forward to finding out what we’re doing well and also where we can expand opportunities for our kids.”

Hill City Superintendent Pat Rendle looks forward to using the Youth Voices Survey results in planning school activities.

Hill City Superintendent Pat Rendle looks forward to using the Youth Voices Survey results in planning school activities.

Rendle and Person noted that they particularly embrace the Youth Voice survey because it contains local and pertinent information and, unlike the MSS, the data can be drilled down to a highly usable level.  “The survey will show us the facts directly from our students, not our perceptions or assumptions,” said Rendle.

Preliminary results will be presented at a meeting of the core team on Thursday.  For more information on this event contact SPARK here.