Authored by Rick Fortier, CHES
Let’s Go! is pleased to announce a recent partnership with the Maine Department of Education and the Department of Health and Human Services for the 2013 Maine Integrated Youth Health Survey (MIYHS). The MIYHS is only administered every two years and provides valuable data to school administrators and communities in assessing the health and risk taking behaviors of their youth. This data can help schools address specific needs and/or challenges that Maine students are facing. Because this data is so important in keeping our children safe and healthy, Let’s Go! would like to thank those schools who have signed up to participate, and encourage those schools who have not, to do so. Let’s Go! is a great example of an organization that will use the data to gain insight on the behaviors of Maine students which will help us improve their overall health and nutrition.
Here are some frequently asked questions that schools may have about the MIYHS:
What grades does the MIYHS include?
The MIYHS consists of four groupings OR modules, each with its own survey type:
• High school survey [9th through 12th grade] (students take one of four versions, each has between 100-108 questions)
• Middle school survey [7th and 8th grade] (students take one of four versions, each has 80 questions)
• Fifth/sixth grade survey (50 questions)
• Kindergarten/third grade PARENT survey (50 questions)
Will the 5th/6th graders be asked the same questions as older students?
No. The subject matter is grade-appropriate. Each module contains a different set of topics; for example, the 5th/6th grade module does not include questions about sexual behavior or gambling. Schools and parents are able to review the surveys beforehand. Participation is voluntary and anonymous; surveys will never be connected to individual students and participating students may choose to skip any questions that they do not feel comfortable answering.
How long does it take?
The written surveys (grades 5-12) take about 45 minutes, or one class period to complete. Kindergarten and 3rd grade students do not take a written survey; rather, their parents are asked to complete a brief written survey. For the K/3 module, school nurses are asked to conduct height/weight and oral health screenings with assistance provided. School nurses are also asked to conduct height/weight screenings for 5th grade students.
Our school participates in a lot of surveys and academic time is limited. Why should we make time for the MIYHS?
The MIYHS is a comprehensive method for assessing health and risk behaviors of Maine students. It is an effective way to address multiple topics without having to administer more than one survey. While the survey is administered during class time, studies have shown fewer risk behaviors result in higher grades and test scores, and healthy students are more likely to succeed academically. It also allows schools to utilize resources effectively by pinpointing where the areas of most need are.
How can my school district use the MIYHS results?
Schools and school districts that participated in the MIYHS have access to their web-based reports if the report is based on information from 20 or more students. County, public health district and state reports are available for comparison. The data from these reports can be used for planning and evaluating youth health programs, and can be used in grant applications. We recommend that once “areas of need” are identified, schools focus their resources in these areas using science-based prevention programs such as Let’s Go!’s 5210 Goes to School program.
We at Let’s Go! hope you will consider having your school participate in the 2013 MIYHS.
Please contact Stephen Corral from Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services at 207-287-2964 or Stephen.firstname.lastname@example.org with questions regarding data/reports; or contact Pan Atlantic SMS Group, the Portland-based research firm administering the 2013 MIYHS, at email@example.com or toll-free at 1-866-487-2810 for more information about the MIYHS.
Special thanks to the MIYHS administration team at Pan Atlantic SMS Group for their contribution to this blog post!