"We have, for the first time, the data to determine our needs and to design our prevention programs. The data…will help us focus on the positive and measure strengths." – Contra Costa County, CA Substance Abuse Advisory
Over the past 14 years, CHKS has evolved to include content that addresses a full spectrum of school improvement, safety, and climate issues. Listed below are some primary benefits identified by CHKS proponents at the state, county, and local levels:
- Improving School Climate – A growing body of research. The Cal-SCHLS System assesses all of the essential school climate variables. For more information about School Climate, visit the S3 Website.
- Promoting Positive Youth Development – The Cal-SCHLS System assesses the three fundamental school and community support systems that research has linked to positive outcomes: Caring Adult Relationships, High Expectations, and Opportunities for Meaningful Participation. Scale scores are available for each of these three components, allowing schools to track progress over time and look for improvements based on program changes. For more information about Supports and Engagement, visit the S3 Website.
- Identifying Health-related Barriers to Learning – Growing numbers of children attend school with health problems that present severe challenges to learning. The survey assesses many of these key health barriers that have been linked to success on the Academic Performance Index. Schools can use Cal-SCHLS System data to assess their own levels of concern.
- Closing the Achievement Gap – Reducing the persistent achievement gap among ethnic and economic groups is one of the most serious problems facing California schools. The Cal-SCHLS includes questions on the student and staff surveys about the perceptions and experiences related to race, ethnicity, and culture, as well as other factors related to the gap. See CTAG.
- Addressing Specific Local Needs – The structure of the Cal-SCHLS system makes it easy to customize, by either selecting from a large pool of existing custom questions or adding locally-developed questions to meet special needs.
- Obtaining Additional Funding – Both public and private agencies increasingly require data to demonstrate needs for funding and to demonstrate progress in addressing those needs once funding is secured. Cal-SCHLS system data is frequently used in winning proposals and is required in proposals for Tobacco Use Prevention Education funds.
- Low Cost – CDE continues to cover the majority of survey costs.
- Reliability & Validity – Psychometric studies have shown that CHKS scales have a high degree of reliability. Other research likewise shows that confidential surveys like the CHKS have a high degree of validity in student answers—even with sensitive questions. In addition, the CHKS uses several checks and measures to ensure validity.
- Full-service Support – Step-by-step, comprehensive guidebooks and workbooks, internet access to all materials, informative trainings, and the latest technologies are available to help you throughout the data collection and data use process. Clients receive on-call technical assistance from regionally located expert staff with intimate knowledge and understanding of the tough issues facing schools.
The value of the CHKS is harnessed when the data are used as a catalyst for positive change within schools and communities. To optimize your school reform efforts, use your CHKS data to gain a thorough understanding of the scope and nature of student risk behaviors, assets (resilience), and supports, and then make sound decisions about allocating resources and programming.