Depending on data from surveys is always an iffy proposition. Even more so when it involves asking people about illegal activities. Anonymity may help people feel like they can be honest, but it also means there’s nothing preventing them from lying. And a school setting actually encourages “pranking” such surveys (when I was in school, a lot of students pranked the tests that determined whether the school was doing a good job of teaching, often purposely selecting incorrect answers and driving down the entire school average).
That leads to this astute observation by a student:
Most people are quick to attribute the drop in cigarette, alcohol and drug use among Southwest Allen County Schools students to the random drug-testing program that has been placed in the school system’s two middle schools and one high school. However, common sense from a student taking those very drug surveys that led to drug testing can prove otherwise.
In middle and high school, the anonymous drug surveys given to students are seen as a joke. Not only do kids say they have done drugs that they have not heard of, they fill in the corresponding bubble saying they used cocaine more than 50 times a week as a sixth-grader. Until now, these drug surveys have shown ridiculous numbers of drug users in the district resulting from the anonymity of the test.
After the random drug testing was implemented, however, everything changed. Middle and high school students began to see that these surveys, while still anonymous, were finally being used for something: numbers to verify the need for drug testing.
Drug testing is not the Holy Grail to preventing drug use. It has actually done very little to stop drug use in the district ( only 1.9 percent of tested students tested positive ). The huge decline in drug and alcohol use in these surveys can be attributed to the clever students seeing that if they are honest, federal grants will not continue to be poured into the district for drug testing and the program will not be renewed by the school board at the end of the 2008-09 school year.
Drug and alcohol use should not be as widespread as it is in schools, but administrators and employees should quit letting students fool them with a survey and look for something that actually works, and spend some money on education. After all, that is what school is for.