Two area school districts opt out of state survey due to controversial topics

The survey is completely optional. Even if the school districts didn’t decide to opt out all together, individual families could have still decided not to have their children take it.

2022 Minnesota Student Surve
2022 Minnesota Student Survey website is photographed on Friday, April 22, 2022, in Rochester, Minnesota.
Traci Westcott / Post Bulletin
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WABASHA — The latest version of the longstanding Minnesota Student Survey has caused concern among some parents, prompting two area school districts to opt out of the questionnaire.

Both Wabasha-Kellogg and Plainview-Elgin-Millville school districts decided not to take part in the survey, which the state administers every three years. The issue was discussed briefly Wednesday at the Wabasha-Kellogg School Board meeting.

“There was a lot of language and questions in the survey that we didn’t feel were appropriate for our children,” said Wabasha-Kellogg parent Tony Johnson.

The survey also was the source of some tension in school districts that still hosted the survey. Lake City Superintendent Erick Enger said there were parents who came to speak to the school board about their concerns with the survey in that district as well.

Some of the language parents had problems with had to do with issues such as gender identity, sexual activity and sexual orientation. However, the survey covers a wide gamut of material related to student activity.


According to Mamisoa Knutson, a representative for the Minnesota Department of Education, the survey has been administered every three years since 1989. She also clarified that the question regarding gender identity was included in the 2019 version of the survey as well.

Knutson said the questions about sexual orientation and gender identity allow the state to look for disparities among student groups.

She said there is some pushback during most iterations of the survey.

“In general, the positive feedback outweighs the negative, and this year is not an exception,” Knutson said. “By and large, people recognize that the only way to know what is going on in students’ lives is to ask them in an anonymous survey. Unless we hear from students, we cannot provide supports to address the issues they may be experiencing.”

The survey is completely optional. Even if the school districts didn’t decide to opt out all together, individual families could still decided not to have their children take it. For that matter, individual schools could opt out of the survey even if the district overall decided to take part in it.

2022 Minnesota Student Surve
A passive consent notice to parents school district plan to survey students 2022 Minnesota Student Survey is seen on Friday, April 22, 2022, in Rochester, Minnesota.
Traci Westcott / Post Bulletin

Wabasha-Kellogg School Board member Michelle Meyer told parents at Wednesday’s board meeting that this is not the first time the district has taken part in the survey.

“We’ve taken it every three years since 2010. It wasn’t like it was something that just came out this year that was revolutionary,” Meyer said.

It’s a partnership between the school districts and five state agencies: the Minnesota departments of Corrections, Education, Health, Human Services, and Public Safety.


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There are three different versions of the survey. Students take a given survey based on what grade they’re in.

“The information collected on these surveys is helpful because state agencies, school districts, county and local public health agencies and community nonprofits use local data to hold community forums and stimulate discussion about the needs of youth, to plan programs and to obtain grant funding,” Knutson said.

Jordan Shearer covers K-12 education for the Post Bulletin. A Rochester native, he graduated from Bemidji State University in 2013 before heading out to write for a small newsroom in the boonies of western Nebraska. Bringing things full circle, he returned to Rochester in 2020 just shy of a decade after leaving. Readers can reach Jordan at 507-285-7710 or
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