OKLAHOMA CITY – The governor this week signed into law a bill intended to expand the use of the Oklahoma Prevention Needs Assessment Survey to 100% of Oklahoma public schools.
Rep. Mark Vancuren, R-Owasso, is the author of House Bill 1103, which requires public schools throughout the state to administer the survey every two years, beginning with the 2022-23 school year, subject to the availability of federal funds. He said currently only about 46% of Oklahoma’s public schools use the survey in grades six, eight, 10 and 12 to help determine risk and protective factors that correlate to behavioral health problems such as substance abuse, depression or other factors.
“This survey helps us better determine the behavioral health needs of the students in our public schools,” Vancuren said. “Once we determine what the needs are, we can better assess what resources or funding might be appropriate to address those areas of concern.”
Vancuren, a 30-year educator and coach, said the survey currently is administered with help by the Oklahoma Department of Mental Health and Substance Abuse Services. The department provides feedback to schools on the data they compile and attempts to help schools determine next steps in assisting students.
Sen. John Haste, R-Broken Arrow, is the Senate author of the legislation.
“House Bill 1103 provides an assessment that yields a better understanding of substance use, stress and suicidality patterns to help schools develop better prevention programs,” Haste said. “The Covid-19 pandemic has increased the mental health needs of students and behavioral challenges in the classroom. This risk has increased by as much as 94%.”
The survey is voluntary, and parents can opt out their child from taking it if they wish. Vancuren said this survey has been administered in its present form since 2004. This bill doesn’t do anything to try to change how it is administered, he said, but it is trying to increase the number of schools participating in the survey.