Washington School District students in grades six, eight, 10 and 12 will participate in the Missouri Student Survey.

Letters were sent home to parents this week about the survey, which is anonymous and optional. Parents can opt out of having their child participate.

According to the letter, the survey results will help decision makers at the state level, community and district understand the challenges students face.

The survey also will help the district and Franklin County Community Resource Board determine the services needed.

Results will indicate the extent of alcohol, marijuana and other substance use, as well as incidences of violence experienced by students.

A sampling of questions students will answer include: During the past 12 months, how many times were you in a physical fight? During the past 30 days, on how many days did you smoke cigarettes?

School officials said the survey is anonymous for every student participant, and individual responses are not reported or maintained.

They stressed that participation will assist the district and community gather local data regarding alcohol, tobacco, other drug use and violence.

According to the Missouri Department of Health, the survey is conducted in even-numbered years to track risk behaviors of students in the above-mentioned grades attending public schools in Missouri.

The first survey was conducted in 2000 by Research Triangle Institute. Since 2004, the survey has been conducted jointly by the Missouri Department of Elementary and Secondary Education and Missouri Department of Health, Division of Behavioral Health.