Frequently Asked Questions

The Texas School Survey of Drug and Alcohol Use has been conducted in Texas school districts since 1988. The survey is conducted by the Public Service and Administration (PSAA) at Texas A&M University on behalf of the Texas Health and Human Services Commission (HHSC).

A statewide survey is conducted every two years. These statewide assessments generate current data to inform state level policy-making. In addition, they can provide a standard of comparison for districts and campuses conducting local surveys.


What formats are available for the Texas School Survey?

The Texas School Survey is offered in the traditional paper-pencil version and an online web version. Both versions are identical in the number and types of questions and are offered in English and Spanish.

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Why give the Texas School Survey?

  • When schools administer the Texas School Survey, the results can be directly compared to the state and region results. Using the same survey allows over time comparisons and standardizes data results.
  • The Texas School Survey provides state and local agencies with data to quantify local drug and alcohol use, as well as provide guidance on the best means to address the problem. It produces factual data to replace speculative and sensational information.
  • At the community level, the survey helps estimate the extent to which student substance use is primarily a “school problem.” Some research indicates that much drug and alcohol use is centered not in the schools, but instead takes place after school hours and away from school grounds.
  • Administered over an extended period of time, the survey is an effective tool to evaluate the impact of substance abuse prevention and education programs.
  • The Texas School Survey is designed to be responsive to questions of specific interest to Texas' educators, policymakers, parents, and community groups.
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What do you get when you use the Texas School Survey?

Compensation. Schools selected to participate in the statewide sample will receive monetary compensation for time and effort involved in survey administration. This payment will be made when survey administration is complete and all materials are returned.

Survey Administration Materials. All materials needed for survey administration will be shipped to your campus or district.

State Report. Participating schools will receive a copy of the State Report.

Data Analysis. TAMU produces three types of reports:

  • Executive Summary and Comparative Graphics. A brief Executive Summary of local results, contrasted to statewide data, is presented. The report includes figures and graphics comparing local and state results that can easily be converted into overheads for use in press releases or presentation to school boards or community groups.
  • Local Survey Results. Includes a series of General Substance Tables detailing the use of tobacco, alcohol, illicit and prescription drugs, and inhalants among the local student population, and ones that illustrate environmental and behavioral factors related to substance use. Also includes Prevalence Tables that compare substance use by gender, ethnicity, academic performance, and other student characteristics.
    • District Level Reports – involve additional campuses in the district and may involve a cost to cover expenses.
    • Campus Level Reports – available to schools selected in the statewide sample and may involve surveying additional classrooms.

  • State Results. Up-to-date comparative data from the most recent assessment of substance use among the public school-age population in Texas. The results are presented in a format identical to that found in the local report.

  • *Schools selected in the statewide sample will receive a copy of the statewide report as part of their contribution to the study. They will also be given the option of a Campus Level Report. District level reports and Executive Summary reports with comparative graphics are also available for an additional cost. Please contact the TAMU Survey Coordinators if you would like to receive more information about these options.

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What kinds of questions does the Texas School Survey answer?

The Texas School Survey begins by asking for demographic information such as age, gender, race, grade, etc. The remaining questions address three basic issues: Drug and alcohol use patterns, Drug and Alcohol Related Behaviors, and Substance Abuse Education and Support Networks. For specific questions in each issue, refer to the Survey Instrument.

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What grades can take the Texas School Survey?

The Texas School Survey is designed for students in grades 7 through 12.

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How long does the survey take?

The survey takes about 30 minutes to complete. An additional 10 to 15 minutes should be allowed for handing out and taking up the instruments (or online survey tokens) and for reviewing instructions. It can easily be completed in a single class period.

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Is Parental Notification required?

The Institutional Review Board for Human Subjects at Texas A&M University has waived the requirement to document parental assent/consent, but does require that the “Information Sheet” be distributed to parents and that the students are read the information in the classroom informing them that participation is completely voluntary. Either the parents of students or the students themselves have every right to NOT participate in the Texas School Survey.

Schools/Districts taking part in The Texas School Survey of Drug and Alcohol Use are required to notify parents of the survey and its general contents at least 2 weeks prior to survey administration. This notification MUST include the "Information Sheet" that has been provided. Ideally, these forms should be mailed to parents to ensure proper dissemination, but it is up to each school/district to decide how such matters are to be handled.

Each participating school/district is responsible for having a mechanism in place to accommodate those students who will not be participating in the survey. Either the Campus Coordinator or the teacher will need to keep track of students for whom either the parents or the students themselves choose not to participate in the survey.

If your school/district is making use of US Department of Education funds (e.g., Safe and Drug Free School programs) to pay for the Texas School Survey, the school/district may be required to obtain informed consent from parents/guardians. In addition, there may be other circumstances that require your school/district to use informed consent and, if so, it is up to the district to obtain and document such consent.

(If you have any questions, or are unclear as to these requirements, please call us at 979-862-3437 or send an email to

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Are surveys and parent consent forms available in Spanish?

Yes, Spanish surveys are available upon request. Each school will be provided with an "Information Sheet" (Parental Notification Letters) in English and Spanish to notify parents of the survey and its general contents prior to survey administration.

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Is it necessary to survey all students in every grade level, or are sampling services available?

Participating campuses are requested to survey 6 classrooms per grade level. If your campus has fewer than 6 classrooms per grade level, then you are requested to sample all students. Additional classrooms may be surveyed in order to produce a representative Campus Level Report.

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What is required from a campus in order to select a representative sample of 6 classrooms per grade level?

For the Texas School Survey to be administered in your school/district, TAMU will need to randomly select classes for participation in the study. The random selection process will allow us to generate survey results that are representative of the student population within your school/district. Detailed instructions for completing this master list are noted below.

Note: The Survey Coordinator will receive a guide (Sampling Guide for Survey Administration) and a Microsoft Excel spreadsheet titled Sampling Template. Please refer to this guide when completing the template.

*If you are surveying students at an individual school only, you will need to provide a master list of classes for the specific grade levels contained at your school (only grades 7-12 are eligible to participate).

*If you are surveying students at the district level, you will need to provide a master list of classes at each district campus with grades 7-12.

  • For schools conducting the survey via paper pencil, choose either a class period (i.e. 1st, 3rd) in which all students are present or a subject (i.e. English, Science) in which all students must be enrolled; for schools conducting the survey online, choose only a subject (i.e. English, Science) in which all students must be enrolled.
  • List all teachers for that class period or that subject;
  • List the number of students per grade level in each of those classes.
  • List the class period, regardless of whether class period or subject was selected

Once the spreadsheet is complete, a district will submit it electronically to: TAMU will randomly pick entire classes until we reach the target numbers per grade level for the sample. Then, we'll send a Master List of those classes randomly selected to be surveyed in order for the Parental Notification Letters to be sent home to the parents of students in the selected classes.

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When will survey results be available?

TAMU expects the report to be distributed to schools in the fall following the survey administration year.

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What other optional services are available?

The Texas School Survey has a number of other optional services available for a fee.

Customized Survey Questions. Up to 30 additional items can be added to the survey to address questions of specific interest to individual schools. These additional questions can be cross-analyzed with existing survey items. Initial cost for this service is $300 with an additional cost of $10 per supplemental question. (Note: supplemental questions should not stray too far from the subject of substance use and related behaviors, and must be approved by the Principal Investigator and the TAMU IRB for the project.). PSAA will submit supplemental questions to the TAMU IRB for approval.

Extra copies. Additional hard copies of the reports can be requested.

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How much will the survey cost?

Schools included in the statewide sample will receive survey materials free of charge to survey sufficient numbers of students for inclusion in the statewide sample. Districts with one or more campuses selected in the statewide sample that want a District Level Report can contact TAMU for a reduced cost estimate.

The Texas School Survey is available for use by districts with no campuses included in the statewide sample for an initial fee of $200 with an additional $1.25 per student surveyed for paper pencil or $0.50 for online surveys. This price includes all survey materials and shipping fees and includes a District Level Report.

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How do I enroll in the Texas School Survey?

Complete the online basic participation form at:

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Where should I direct further questions?

If you have questions or need further information, please feel free to contact TAMU survey staff directly. You may direct inquiries to:

Shannon Peairson
Texas School Survey Coordinators

Public Service And Administration
4220 TAMU
College Station, TX, 77843-4220

Telephone: 979-862-3437
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