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Purpose and Design

Introduction to the Kansas Communities That Care (KCTC) Youth 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 risk and protective factors that influence behavior, attitudes, and opinions of Kansas teens.

Purposes of the Kansas Communities That Care (KCTC)

Developing a focus for planning

Reports showing Kansas Communities That Care Youth Survey data provide an objective profile of the problem behaviors, risk factors and protective factors that exist in your communities. This information highlights strengths and challenges, which will help in the development of a focused prevention plan. Data from the KCTC 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 make key decisions regarding allocation of resources, how and when to address specific needs, and which strategies are most effective and known to produce results.

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 measurable outcomes that states and communities choose to target. Future surveys can be used to track progress toward those outcomes. Data is also used to measure teen behavior, attitude and opinion compared to teens from other states and national averages.

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 and 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 has been dedicated to finding proven strategies, and implementing outcomes based planning in communities. Their hard work and dedication has earned Kansas national recognition, and opportunities for continued funding.


The Kansas Communities That Care Student Survey contains questions about alcohol, tobacco, and other drug use; related risk and protective factors; and demographic questions. The survey is voluntary for all districts and students in the State and is offered for students in 6th, 8th, 10th, and 12th grades. The content of the survey is broken down into three major sections, each containing items designed to obtain specific information about these behaviors.

Student background information (demographics)

Some basic background information (e.g., age, grade level, ethnic group, zip code, 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 examination of trends and differences in behaviors among students of varying background characteristics. Finally, it allows 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 target behaviors of interest in this survey is the extent to which students have used and are using alcohol, tobacco, and other drugs. The same items that have been used in past statewide surveys will be used again here. Asking these questions again allows for both local and statewide assessments of the changes in these patterns of use over time for Kansas’s students and provides important data-based direction for prevention efforts both locally and across the state.

Risk and protective factors

Research has provided a great deal of guidance on attitudinal and behavioral factors that place students at great 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. They relate to the students themselves, their peers, their school, their community, and their family. Again, these results highlight the important relationships that guide school prevention and intervention programs across the state.

Procedures and Administration

Surveys are administered to students between December 1 and January 31 of each year. The survey is offered to all districts and all schools who 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. A parent letter is sent home with students two weeks prior to the date of administration, informing them of the study and giving them the option to decline their child’s participation if they desire to do so. The questionnaires are group administered in classrooms during a normal class period whenever possible; however, circumstances in some schools require the use of larger group administrations. Approximately 250 districts and 90,000 students participate in the survey 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 and 80% participation is needed for evaluation.

Data is not displayed if < 20 students or < 25% participation. Year to year differences in data may be affected by varying participation rates.