Minnesota Student Survey
What is the Minnesota Student Survey?
The Minnesota Student Survey (MSS) is one of the longest running youth surveys in the nation. It is a triennial (every 3-years) survey that began in 1989. The survey is an anonymous statewide school-based survey conducted to gain insights into the world of students and their experiences. The MSS is a collaborative effort among the:
- Minnesota Department of Education
- Minnesota Department of Health
- Minnesota Department of Human Services
- Minnesota Department of Public Safety
The survey asks students about their activities, opinions, behaviors and experiences. Students respond to questions on school climate, bullying, out-of-school activities, health and nutrition, emotional and mental health, relationships, substance use and more. Questions about sexual behaviors are asked only of ninth and eleventh grade students. All responses are anonymous and cannot be traced to a particular student.
The MSS can be administered to fifth, eighth, ninth and eleventh grade students in public schools, charter schools, Bureau of Indian Education (BIE) tribal schools and non-public schools. It is also offered to students in alternative learning centers and juvenile correctional facilities.
The survey is voluntary for schools and students. Schools have the option of not participating in the survey. If a school chooses to participate, it must notify parents and inform them of their right to review the survey questions and opt their child out. This notification requirement is an obligation. Students also can decide not to take the survey or stop at any point while taking it.
Most questions have remained the same and therefore communities have been able to trend the data over time, however some questions have been added or deleted over the years. For example, the question: "Do you consider yourself transgender, genderqueer, genderfluid, or unsure about your gender identity?" was added in 2016.
In 2016, 282 of 330 school districts (85.5%) participated in the survey. Nearly 169,000 regular public school students took the survey. This included 66% of all fifth graders, 73% of eight graders, 71% of ninth graders and 61% of eleventh graders. In Wayzata, over 2,000 students participated in the survey.
How Does Partners in Prevention Use the MSS?
While the Minnesota Student Survey offers a lot of information about a variety of topics, our main focus areas with the results include: alcohol and substance use and perception information, mental health topics, general well-being topics and the connectedness students report to adults in their lives. Partners in Prevention has a Data & Evaluation Committee that analyzes results each cycle and works with the Branding & Communications Committee to construct a plan for sharing the results with community members. The data also helps us understand the culture of Wayzata students as it relates to their experience navigating adolescents. It provides incredible context into issues they face and the perceptions they share.
Aside from the wealth of knowledge it provides, the most visual and 'exciting' way we use the survey is with our Uncover the Truth campaign. To learn more about that, click here (or find Uncover the Truth under the Initiatives Tab above)!