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The Pennsylvania State Youth survey is issued statewide in the fall of odd-numbered years to any school that opts to participate. COCA urges Berks County schools to participate, because the survey provides crucial information into attitudes and behaviors of Berks County youth on a number of issues that put students at risk (alcohol/tobacco/other drugs, violence, and other problem behaviors. It also assesses students’ perspectives of their school environment and their mental health, and helps gauge the effectiveness of existing prevention and intervention programs.
“The Pennsylvania Youth Survey data is a key piece for prevention planning in Berks County. It helps establish priorities and target audiences for current and future programs,” said COCA Prevention Program Manager Jaclyn Steed.
In Berks County, 36 out of 63 schools (in 13 of 18 districts) participated in the 2021 PAYS. 2020-21 enrollment show that of the 18,947 students in grades 6, 8, 10,
and 12 enrolled in participating schools, 12,415 valid surveys were submitted (a participation rate of 65.5%).That represents a significant uptick from 2017, when eight school districts and one charter school administered the survey. We are grateful to all who participated and for the increase in participation, as it helps provide a more accurate picture of Berks County youth behaviors and attitudes.
Participating schools included:
Boyertown Area School District
Brandywine Heights Area School District
Conrad Weiser Area School District
Daniel Boone Area School District
Exeter Township School District
Fleetwood Area School District
Governor Mifflin School District
Kutztown Area School District
Muhlenberg School District
Reading School District
Reading Virtual Academy
Twin Valley School District
Wilson School District
Wyomissing Area School District
Yes. PAYS data is mandatory for the Berks County Needs Assessment, which is required to secure state funding for prevention services. Reading School District, for example, received three years of funding for Project Towards No Drug Abuse as a result of PAYS data. The district also received six years of funding, as well as teacher trainings and curriculum materials for Botvin Life Skills, an evidence-based substance abuse and violence prevention program.
The 2021 PAYS questionnaire asked students about bullying, school safety, gambling, depression and, the use of alcohol, tobacco and drugs. PAYS also asked questions about mental health and suicide risk.
Get 2020 stats on school safety, substance use & mental health among PA high school studentsView now
77% Felt safe at school
40% Alcohol, tobacco, marijuana