PA Public School Intrusive Survey

Communications Director April Few recently received the following information from PAPIE member Joanne Yurchak from West Chester , Pennsylvania.

“You should be aware of an intrusive survey that is being conducted this fall in many of Pennsylvania’s public schools, namely the PAYS (Pennsylvania Youth Survey).  PAYS is given to students in 6th, 8th, 10th and 12th grades in odd-numbered years.  This means that HALF of Pennsylvania’s students will never be surveyed.

The questions on the 2017 PAYS are tabulated in this PDF file labeled “2017 PAYS Question Dictionary.”

The survey asks extremely sensitive and probing questions “about students’ attitudes, knowledge and behaviors concerning alcohol, tobacco, other drugs (ATOD), violence, depression, and other problem behaviors.”  There are many questions about criminal acts, guns, suicide, and innumerable types of illegal drugs.

A prime concern of PAYS opponents is that questions of the type posed in this survey could do more harm than good, particularly to students who might be unusually susceptible to suggestion (e.g. suicide and drug abuse questions).  It is reasonable to question the value of these suggestive questions since individuals whose answers indicate they are at risk can’t be helped because of the supposed anonymity of the survey.

IMPORTANT!!!  Students are not required to take the survey but parents must tell the school that they do not want their child to participate.  The school will usually send out some type of notice to parents that provides them with information and asks parents to respond if they DO NOT want their student to participate.  In other words, YOU MUST ACT TO OPT OUT.  If you ignore the notification, your child will end up taking the survey and answering questions that you might find extremely objectionable, particularly for a sixth grader.

I strongly urge all parents of children in 6th, 8th, 10th and 12th grades this year to:

(1) determine whether or not their district is administering this survey,

(2) read the attached questions on this survey to see if they want their children subjected to them, and

(3) opt their child out ASAP if they find the questions objectionable.

It is the decision of each individual school district to determine whether or not they want to administer the survey to their students. A list of participating districts as of October 11, 2017 can be accessed at the this website.

Please share this information with as many people as possible.  It is essential that parents understand what this survey entails so that they can determine whether or not to allow their children to participate.

Joanne Yurchak

West Chester, PA”


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