Pennsylvania Youth Survey (PAYS)

  • Since 2001, The Pennsylvania Youth Survey (PAYS) has been administered to Chester County public school students in grades 6, 8, 10 and 12 every 2 years. In 2009, 14,986 Chester County students participated in the survey.
  • The PAYS provides information that helps target prevention and intervention activities. It also provides a benchmark for measuring unhealthy behaviors.
  • In reviewing prevalence data, 30-day use is the best measure of current use. Lifetime use is the best measure of experimentation.
  • The PAYS survey uses 4 strategies to assess the validity of surveys. The 1st 2 eliminate the surveys of students who exaggerate their drug use and/or antisocial behavior. The 3rd strategy eliminates the surveys of students who report use of a fictitious drug and the fourth strategy eliminates the surveys of students who report logically inconsistent patterns of use.
  • Of the surveys administered to Chester County students, all but 5% were valid.
  • Risk Factors are conditions that increase the likelihood of a young person becoming involved in drug use, delinquency, school dropout and/or violence.
  • Protective Factors, also known as ‘assets’, are conditions that buffer children and youth from exposure to risk either by reducing the impact of the risk, or changing the way youth respond to the risk.
  • Scale Scores: Risk and Protective Factor scores are reported using scale scores. A scale score is the result of taking raw scores and converting them so that equivalent scores can be equated across time and across different forms.