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The Evanstonian

The news site of Evanston Township High School's student newspaper

The Evanstonian

The news site of Evanston Township High School's student newspaper

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ETHS students take annual wellbeing survey during PE block

Survey results will be used to measure district progress on various wellbeing measurables

On Feb. 20 and 21, ETHS students participated in an annual wellbeing survey, a comprehensive questionnaire that aims to collect student data in certain wellbeing categories. Those categories include mental health, physical health, substance use and beliefs, safety and the culture of consent.

Carrie Levy is Director of Research, Evaluation & Assessment at ETHS, and the survey has been administered through her office for some time.

“I am part of a working committee that developed the student wellbeing survey, and that annually reviews the survey,” said Levy. “We have been administering the survey for over 10 years.”

This survey has many purposes, but its overall goal is to understand the lives of students at ETHS in order to help support them.

“The wellbeing survey provides information for our Student Services Department and school leadership on programs and services we develop and provide for students,” Levy said. “For example, the substance abuse questions provide data that lets ETHS develop awareness and educational programming on substance abuse prevention, mental health and wellbeing.”

The survey began as two separate surveys: the Illinois Youth Risk Survey and the Substance Abuse Survey, both administered by the state.

“We consolidated the surveys and decided to administer them internally so that student responses could directly inform programming to support students,” said Levy.

The wellbeing survey is also anonymous, allowing students to share more about themselves without fear of being judged or singled out for their responses.

“The survey includes sensitive topics such as substance abuse, sexual assault and mental health, and we want students to be able to answer the questions honestly without fear of being identified,” said Levy.

An email sent out to students and caregivers prior to survey administration stated the anonymity policy, ensuring all participants were on the same page.

One freshman at ETHS who recently took the survey in their PE class had mixed feelings about it being anonymous.

“I think it’s good that it’s anonymous because more people will tell the truth,” said the student. “It might not be totally accurate because students aren’t held accountable.”

The survey’s results are shared with the Student Services Department, the district’s leadership team and faculty and staff, as well as in school board reports. All of these groups look closely at the data to understand how they can best help ETHS students.

“School climate changes slowly over time, so changes year to year are typically small, but we look for trends and movement in a positive direction,” Levy said. “It provides valuable information from students that is difficult to get otherwise.”

Each question is carefully written and can cover many areas that are important to staff and students. The questions, which are split up into sections, each demonstrate something about the school and how it has grown since students first took the survey. The overall results are more than just data; every response could be linked to factors such as extracurriculars or grades.

“For example, sense of belonging is an important construct and has many connections to equity, academic performance, attendance and discipline,” Levy said. “Understanding how students report their sense of belonging and connectedness to the school over time gives us data on how our efforts to enhance students’ sense of belonging are working.”

The wellbeing survey is constantly adapted to meet students’ needs, especially over the last year. Based on feedback from students, the survey was shortened, and the time it takes to complete the questions was cut in half. 

“Student feedback on their sense of belonging and connectedness to ETHS is important and we want to make it less cumbersome for students to share their feelings,” said Levy.

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Keira Beaudoin
Keira Beaudoin, Staff Writer
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