P.O. BOX 2120



March 11, 2005



Division Superintendents



Jo Lynne DeMary

Superintendent of Public Instruction



Virginia Community Youth Survey and the Youth Tobacco Survey


In the fall of 2005 the Survey Evaluation and Research Laboratory (SERL) of Virginia Commonwealth University will administer the Virginia Community Youth Survey and the Youth Tobacco Survey in randomly selected school divisions for the Department of Mental Health, Mental Retardation and Substance Abuse Services (DMHMRSAS) and the Virginia Tobacco Settlement Foundation. SERL last conducted these two surveys in October 2003.


Working under a joint agreement between the Foundation and DMHMRSAS will prevent a duplication of random survey sampling for school divisions. The random survey sample, to be drawn by the Centers for Disease Control, will include an estimated total of 10,000 students in the middle and high schools. We anticipate that about 500 classrooms will be surveyed. This represents approximately one percent of all middle and high school students.


Each survey requires one 45-minute class period to administer. A classroom teacher or other school personnel may administer the survey or a survey administrator will be provided. The survey process will be coordinated by SERL.


Your cooperation in allowing the survey to be administered (at no cost) in your school division will be appreciated because the data obtained will serve a number of reporting requirements.

Collecting the data will:


1. Satisfy the reporting requirements for the Department of Education under the No Child Left Behind Act of 2001, specifically the incidence and prevalence, age of onset, perception of health risk, and perception of social disapproval of drug use and violence by youth in schools and communities


2. Meet the requirement for Substance Abuse Prevention and Treatment (SAPT) Performance Partnership grant for a plan for services based on youth survey data. The amount of SAPT funds for prevention that will be available for fiscal year 2006 is $8.7 million


3. Support the planning efforts of other state agencies, including the Governors Office for Substance Abuse Prevention


4. Support community prevention coalitions in determining targeted risk factors and selecting appropriate science-based prevention programs


5. Assist in determining the need for technical assistance and direction for future efforts


6. Support evaluation of the effectiveness of the commonwealths substance abuse and other prevention programs.


If a school is selected as part of the statewide random sample, school division superintendents will be contacted directly by SERL. As an added service, school divisions may choose to contract separately with SERL to expand the size of the sample of either survey in order to collect their own separate division-level data.


To request a sample of either survey, or to obtain additional information, please contact Mert Rives, SERL Coordinator for the Virginia Statewide Surveys at (804)828-6760 or