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The California Healthy Kids Survey

California Healthy Kids Survey (CHKS)

The CHKS is a modular, anonymous assessment recommended for students age 10 (grade 5) and above. It is focused on the five most important areas for guiding school and student improvement:

  • student connectedness, learning engagement/motivation, and attendance;
  • school climate, culture, and conditions;
  • school safety, including violence perpetration and victimization/bullying;
  • physical and mental well-being and social-emotional learning; and
  • student supports, including resilience-promoting developmental factors (caring relationships, high expectations, and meaningful participation).

To participate in this state-subsidized survey, CDE minimally requires that districts administer a Core Module of key questions in grades 7 and 9 in order to ensure comparable data across all schools. Detailed demographic data are collected from secondary-school students to help determine the characteristics and representativeness of the sample and identify the needs of vulnerable subgroups.

For districts that survey annually, a shorter Mini-Core Module is available for alternate years.

Supplementary modules cover a wide variety of areas in more detail, including:

  • school climate;
  • social-emotional and physical health;
  • substance use; and
  • other risk behaviors.

It is recommended that the supplementary School Climate Module be administered along with the Core Module for a truly comprehensive assessment of school climate and pupil engagement, particularly to guide Local Control and Accountability Plan (LCAP) efforts. Read more about the content of the individual modules.

CHKS Developmental Framework

Promoting Resilience, Social-Emotional Learning, and Trauma-Informed Support Systems

A unique feature of the CHKS is its strength-based focus and theoretical framework drawn from resilience and youth development research. It assesses three fundamental developmental supports in the school, family, community, and peer-group:

  • positive adult relationships;
  • high expectations (academic and behavioral); and
  • opportunities for meaningful participation and decision-making.

Research links these supports to positive academic, psychosocial, and health outcomes among youth, even in high-risk environments. It also provides data on personal social-emotional strengths or assets associated with these factors. These are protective factors in that they mitigate against the adverse effects of stress, trauma, and other risk factors that youth may have experienced. As illustrated in the figure below, youth who attend schools and communities rich in these three supports are more likely to have their basic developmental needs met, which leads to them:

  • being less engaged in risk behaviors that are barriers to learning and healthy development,
  • feeling more connected to school, and
  • developing the social-emotional competencies or personal strengths that have been linked to school and life success. The results are that youth are more likely to have positive academic, personal, and health outcomes.

Model depicting the relationship of key factors that help to promote student success

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