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CSTS Administration
Our goal is to work with your school’s administrators and teachers to make administering the CSTS as simple as possible.

Please note: The information on this page relates to the past 2019-20 CSTS administration.
Starting in 2021, a new contractor, RTI International, will be administering future cycles of the survey for the California Department of Public Health. The survey is also being renamed to the California Youth Tobacco Survey (CYTS).

Survey Details

The CSTS is…

  • An online survey that averages 25 minutes to complete
  • Administered to 8th, 10th, and 12th graders
  • Given during class time of a required course (completed in a single period, cannot be assigned for homework)
  • Distributed for up to 2 weeks, from fall 2019 to March 2020
  • Followed up by a $500 gift card ( to the school and a school profile highlighting your school’s results (once released)
How to Administer the CSTS

Our goal is to work with your school’s administrators and teachers to make administering the CSTS as simple as possible. Hover over the boxes below to find out more about each person’s role in the survey administration process.

UCSD-CSTS Specialist

A UCSD-CSTS Specialist has been assigned to your school. Your school’s UCSD-CSTS Specialist will regularly communicate with your principal and/or CSTS Survey Coordinator to effectively plan and execute survey administration. Our goal is to make the process as simple as possible!


Your principal identifies a designated CSTS Survey Coordinator (usually an assistant principal or tobacco/drug prevention staff member) who organizes administration at your site with the UCSD-CSTS Specialist.

Survey Coordinator

Your school’s CSTS Survey Coordinator provides teachers and/or proctors with training materials, parental consent forms, and the student survey link. The Survey Coordinator is the liaison between the UCSD-CSTS Project Team and all who proctor and participate at your school.

Teachers and Proctors

Teachers and/or proctors complete the survey training, distribute/collect parental consent forms, read oral assent script before each administration, and submit the online Participation Logs. Teachers and/or proctors are the liaison between your school’s CSTS Survey Coordinator and all students who participate in the survey.

Frequently Asked Questions

The CSTS is administered to students in grades 8, 10, and 12.

It takes students an average of 25 minutes to complete the online survey.

The latest administration of the CSTS will occur between August 2019 and March 2020. We encourage schools to administer the student module within a 2-week period, with administration of the educator module thereafter.

The survey is administered in a required course, like English or History. This ensures all students participate and that the likelihood of students being offered the survey more than once is low (since the survey is anonymous).

The 2019-20 CSTS will survey a minimum of 300 randomly sampled schools, including at least 260 high schools and 40 middle schools.

For high schools, California is divided into 35 regions based on contiguity and socio-economic similarity. Sampling is stratified by region, with the number of schools in each region proportional to the number of students in each region. By sampling this way, we aim to report county or regional prevalence, in addition to the statewide estimates.

For middle schools, sampling is stratified by the state, not by region.

Please direct your UCSD-CSTS Specialist to a staff member at your school who can help coordinate the survey administration. It could be an assistant principal, testing coordinator, tobacco/drug prevention counselor, etc.

Active consent requires all students to return signed parental consent forms indicating that they allow their child to participate or they do not allow their child to participate.

Passive consent just requires students whose parents do not wish for them to participate to return signed consent forms. Everyone else who does not return the signed passive consent form is allowed to participate.

The type of consent used at a school is consistent with the school district’s requirements. Most districts accept the use of passive consent for this survey.

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