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Purpose and Design

Introduction to the Kansas Communities That Care (KCTC) Student Survey

The Kansas Communities That Care (KCTC) youth survey has been administered annually free of charge throughout the state since 1994. The survey tracks teen use of harmful substances such as alcohol, tobacco, and other drugs. In addition, the survey provides a baseline for teen participation in, perception of, and attitudes toward both prosocial and antisocial behavior at the peer, school, family, and community levels. It provides a measurable level of student risk and protective factors that influence the behavior, attitudes, and opinions of Kansas teens.

Purposes of the Kansas Communities That Care (KCTC) Student Survey

Developing a focus for planning

Reports showing Kansas Communities That Care Student Survey data provide an objective profile of the problem behaviors, risk factors, and protective factors that exist in our communities. This information highlights strengths and challenges, which will help in the development of a focused prevention plan. Data from the KCTC Student Survey is used to help school and community planners assess current conditions and prioritize areas of greatest need. Each risk and protective factor can be linked to specific types of interventions that have been shown to be effective in either reducing risk(s) or enhancing protection(s). Survey results help schools and communities assess and prioritize needs and make key decisions regarding the allocation of resources.

Establishing a baseline to track progress

The survey data provide a standardized measure of risk and protective factors and prevalence rates. These data can be used as a baseline to develop objectives that schools and communities can use to measure outcomes. The KCTC can be used to track progress toward those outcomes. Data are also used to measure Kansas teen behavior, attitude, and opinion compared to national trends.

Conducting public relations and outreach

The information from the survey can be used to build public awareness about the extent of problem behaviors and levels of risk and protection. It can help counteract misconceptions and denial about drug and alcohol use or other problem behaviors and provides all stakeholders with a mutual understanding and foundation upon which to make prevention planning decisions.

The Kansas Department for Aging and Disability Services (KDADS) Behavioral Health Services Commission is dedicated to the implementation of outcomes-based prevention planning in schools and communities. Their hard work and dedication have earned Kansas national recognition, and opportunities for continued funding.


The Kansas Communities That Care Student Survey contains questions about substance use, school climate, bullying, and related risk and protective factors. The survey is offered to all public and private schools in Kansas for students in 6th, 8th, 10th, and 12th grades. The survey is typically administered in school during one classroom period and takes on average 27 minutes to complete. Parental consent s is required for participation. Additionally, students consent to participate and can decline participation.

Student background information (demographics)

Some basic background information (e.g., age, grade level, race, and ethnic group, etc.) is needed to ensure that the students participating in the survey are generally representative of the statewide student population at these grades. In addition, this information allows for the examination of trends and differences in behaviors among students of varying background characteristics. Finally, the survey is designed to allow for results to be produced at the local level for use in local prevention and intervention program planning. These analyses are conducted without specific identification of individual students so that anonymity is maintained throughout the survey effort.

Alcohol, tobacco, and other drug use

One of the focused behaviors of interest in this survey is the extent to which students have used and are using alcohol, tobacco, and other drugs. These questions allow for both local and statewide assessment of changes in patterns of use over time for Kansas’s students and provide important data-based guidance and direction for prevention efforts.

Risk and protective factors

Research has provided a great deal of guidance on attitudinal and behavioral factors that place students at greater risk for violence and substance use, and those that, on the positive side, provide protection against these unhealthy behaviors. This survey contains several items that assess the degree to which these factors, both risk and protective, occur in the students who respond to the survey.  Risk and protective factors are found in all domains of student life including themselves and their peers, their school, community, and family. Again, these results highlight the important relationships that guide school prevention and intervention programs designed to positively impact youth across the state.

Procedures and Administration

Kansas has administered the KCTC Student Survey annually since 1994-95 school year. Surveys are administered to students between October 1st and January 31st of each year. The survey is offered at no charge to all districts and all schools that have students in 6th, 8th, 10th, or 12th grades. Participation in the survey is completely voluntary for every district and every student eligible for participation. As previously mentioned, parental consent is required and students themselves must also consent prior to participation. Kansas has high KCTC Student Survey participation with at least 60,000 students participating each year.


Data reported from the KCTC Student Survey is based on elective participation. Before generalizing this information to all youth or for planning and evaluation, a full understanding of the percentage of students who responded to the survey compared to the number of students who attend public or private schools in your community is necessary. Generally, 60% participation is acceptable for planning purposes.

Data are not displayed if there are fewer than 20 students or less than 25% participation for any group. Year-to-year differences in participation may affect data trends It is important to examine participation rates for each grade level reported.