It is critically important that you pay close attention to informing parents about the survey and obtaining and documenting their consent for student participation.
State regulations require “active” or written consent in 6th grade and lower and “passive” consent in grades 7 through 12 for the basic CHKS.
1. Active (Opt-in) Parental Consent (Grades 3-6).
- No child can be surveyed until a parent/guardian has provided written permission. If a permission form is not returned, it must be assumed that parental/guardian permission has not been granted.
- Written permission may be sent electronically if permitted by your district or board policy.
- Carefully track written permission so you can identify students whose parents did not respond or declined participation, to ensure those students are not given the survey.
2. Passive (Opt-out) Parental Consent Grades 7-12).
- Written information about the survey is sent to parents/guardians, who in turn have to notify the school ONLY if they do not want their child to participate in the survey.
- Notification of declined participation may be sent electronically if permitted by your district or board policy.
- Carefully track declined participation, to ensure those students are not given the survey links.
Modifiable Sample Consent Forms are available below.
- Sample Elementary School Introductory Letter (Active)
- Sample Middle/High School Introductory Letter (Passive)
Active Consent Only
Under active consent, a permission form is sent home with students. Parents/guardians must return the form in order to give their permission.
Middle Schools and High Schools
Under passive consent, a form is sent home with students notifying parents about the survey. Parents/guardians return the form only if they do not wish for their student to participate.
- Sample Middle/High School Parental Consent Form (English)
- Sample Middle/High School Parental Consent Form (Spanish)
Links to additional translations for parent letters and parental consent forms are available from the California Department of Education website under Sample Introductory Letter and Consent Form. Please note, the high school letter and consent form is now used for both middle and high school.
Some supplemental modules require additional information about content not covered in the Model Consent Form, as follows:
- RYDM Questions About the Home Environment: Add “To further assess resilience and healthy development, there are questions about adult relationships, expectations, and participation in the home.”
- Safety and Violence Module: Add that it includes items on “considering, planning, or attempting to commit suicide.”
- Sexual Behavior Module: Add that it includes questions about “sexual behavior and practices leading to HIV/AIDS, sexually transmitted diseases, and pregnancy.”
Tips and Challenges
- Send informational letters and consent forms early, preferably in back to school registration packets or other important materials is one method to make sure the form is reaching the parent/guardian and will be returned.
- Home mailings, emails, automated phone calling or texting systems, electronic forms (i.e., Google Docs or Google Forms), and your Learning Management Systems (i.e., Power School, Canvas, Blackboard, Class Dojo, etc.) are additional ways to reach out to assure parents are informed and encouraged to return consent forms.
- Provide information in languages spoken by the community, and arrange a contact person and/or an information session about the survey for the community.
- Create a system to carefully track which students do not have permission to participate in the survey. Prepare lists of non-participants for teachers and make certain those students do not receive access to the survey.
- The challenge is getting the signed consent forms (whether or not consent is given) returned and carefully tracking consent.
- It is especially important to make sure parents/guardians are informed, feel confident in their child’s participation, and return the form with approval. Otherwise, active consent may result in a lower student response rate and a less representative sample, as many hard-to-reach subgroups may be underrepresented.
- It is usually most convenient for the classroom teacher to monitor consent returns so that the classroom teacher can make certain students without consent do not receive access to the survey content. If a school or district administrator is tracking active consent, then they will need to prepare lists of non-participants for teachers and make certain those students do not receive access to the survey.
- The main challenge is making sure that all parents/guardians receive notification, have ample time to notify the school that they don’t authorize participation, and parental refusals are carefully monitored.
- Classroom distribution is not recommended for passive consent because of the risk that some students may not give the form to their parents/guardians and might be surveyed without permission. Home mailing is recommended, especially options that require verification of receipt (e.g., require a signature from the recipient).
- It is recommended that a single person at each school be responsible for monitoring and recording refusals. This will help avoid parent/guardian refusals from slipping through the cracks.