CHKS and the Strategic Plan

Joanna Locke, Director of Health and Wellness, and RAD Director, Jean Wing, provide answers to questions about the CHKS and its impacts on two key goals of the Strategic Plan:

Goal 1: Safe, Healthy & Supportive Schools
Goal 4: Building the Full Service Community District

Q:What is the California Healthy Kids Survey and how is it important to OUSD?

A: The California Healthy Kids Survey (CHKS) is given to students throughout the state, in every school district. It asks students about their health, their habits and how they feel about being at school. OUSD has done the CHKS survey since 1999, but starting this year, it is replacing the Use Your Voice survey as our official District survey.

This is because CHKS questions are so well aligned to our strategic plan and our goal to have full-service
community schools in every neighborhood. CHKS will be our primary method of gathering feedback from students, staff, and parents in support of serving the “whole child” and is a key source of data in the new Community Schools Strategic Site Plan (CSSSP).

Q: Who takes the survey and how is it administered?

A: Students in grades 5, 7, 9, and 11 take the survey on paper. It’s available in English and

Meanwhile, all parents and guardians of K-12 students take the CHKS parent survey, available in many home languages, from Spanish to Arabic to Hmong. Parents can fill out their paper surveys (sent home with their students) or take the survey online.

All school staff – both teachers and support staff – take the CHKS School Climate Survey online.

It’s important to note that all of the surveys – whether for students, parents, or school staff – are completely anonymous.

Q: What are the categories of questions contained in the survey?

A: One of the main topics on the student surveys relates to their feelings of connectedness to school (“Do you have a caring relationship with a teacher or other adult at school?”). Other questions relate to health, including nutrition (“Did you eat breakfast this morning?”). There are also questions about physical and emotional safety both inside and outside of school. Other topics include risk behaviors, such as use of tobacco, alcohol, or drugs.

The parent survey asks a whole range of items related to school climate (“Promotes academic success for all students,” or “Has adults that really care about the students”), and also parent engagement (“Allows input and welcomes parents’ contributions,” or “Keeps me well informed about my child’s progress in school”).

The school staff survey asks about the school climate for students and also for the adults who work in the school. Survey items cover a range of topics (“Is a supportive and inviting place for staff to work,” or “Fosters an appreciation of student diversity and respect for each other,” or “Is a safe place for students.”)


Q: How will OUSD use the data to inform program offerings in our District?

A: Selected CHKS student responses are already pre-loaded in several sections of each school’s Community Schools Strategic Site Plan (CSSSP) tool. The CHKS data helps each school to think about strategies to address health and wellness, school climate, college and career readiness, attendance, and other important areas.

For example, the question about whether students are home alone after school can indicate a need for more afterschool programs. The question about whether students feel they have a caring relationship with a teacher or other adult at the school can spark a staff conversation about personalization and school climate. Comparing student responses from year to year can help a school to track the success of its strategies to address these kinds of issues. It’s another form of “data-driven decision making.” Starting next year, parent and staff survey data will also be included in the CSSSP.

Q: What are additional uses for the survey information?

A: CHKS data can be used in staff professional development. For example, staff can compare their responses to students’ responses, and think about the differences, if any, on a question like school safety. Schools can hold focus groups with parents or students (or both) on issues that arise from the surveys, and can brainstorm ways to improve in those areas. Central Office programs and schools can use
CHKS data to support grant proposals as a way of demonstrating the need for funding certain kinds of programs or resources. There is no end to the ways the survey data could be used in the future.