Title

Health is Elementary: Facilitating Elementary Health Education through School District Policy and Practice

First Presenter's Institution

Alabama A&M University

Second Presenter's Institution

University of Alabama at Birmingham

Third Presenter's Institution

NA

Fourth Presenter's Institution

NA

Fifth Presenter's Institution

NA

Location

Ballroom F

Strand #1

Academic Achievement & School Leadership

Strand #2

Mental & Physical Health

Relevance

Health is Elementary is related to the HEAD (academic achievement and leadership) strand because of the strong connection between closing the achievement gap and health. Healthier students lead to better academic outcomes, improved behavior, and higher attendance. In this session, leaders in schools and districts will learn how to assess and customize an intervention to facilitate health education and increase academic achievement in their school/district. This session also closely relates to the HEALTH (mental & physical health) strand because it focuses on health education in the elementary grades. Schools play a vital role in establishing and developing healthy behaviors in the formative years. Health education makes an impact in a variety of health behaviors in children such as tobacco prevention, nutrition, and physical activity (Fahlman, Hall, & Gutuskey, 2013).

Brief Program Description

Research indicates that Elementary Health Education (EHE) is frequently omitted or haphazardly delivered, spelling disaster for student achievement. This session investigates facilitative policy and practices associated with the successful delivery of health education in the elementary grades.

Audience: District and school administrators, elementary teachers

Objectives: Participants will be able to…

describe the relationship between EHE and academic achievement.

summarize practices that facilitate EHE.

customize intervention recommendations.

Summary

Health education can reduce the prevalence of health risk behaviors as well as increase student achievement. The elementary classroom offers a potentially favorable setting to impact student health. However, research indicates that Elementary Health Education (EHE) is frequently omitted or haphazardly delivered. Current teaching practice in health education is far from ideal in elementary classrooms and current research in this topic area is emerging.

Based on new findings in one Alabama school district, teachers and administrators may be resistant, in denial, unmotivated, or not ready to change the current level of delivery of Elementary Health Education (EHE). Teachers and administrators may be uninformed or under informed about the consequences of their behavior, such as failure to meet state guidelines and negative impact on student health outcomes and academic performance. They may be aware of the pros and cons of changing are not ready to take immediate action toward ensuring the delivery of EHE.

This session will emphasize how school district beliefs about responsibility, accountability, instructional time, and planning time are related to EHE readiness level. Participants will learn how to apply the Transtheoretical Model Stages of Change and Processes of Change to customize an intervention for their district and/or school. Specific take-aways include how to turn policy into results with school district supportive practices that facilitate readiness level progression include providing EHE teachers manuals, textbooks, curriculum materials, and professional development. Without these resources, delivery of EHE is unlikely to be successful or sustained. Examples of school district EHE accountability practices include requiring the submission of health lesson plans and listing health as a separate subject on report cards.

Evidence

Compelling evidence indicates that health education can reduce the prevalence of health risk behaviors as well as increase academic performance in students, but this potential is not being fully realized (Basch, 2010; CDC 2011; Kann, Telljohan, & Wooley, 2007). Healthy People 2020 (2015) calls for an increase in the proportion of elementary schools that provide cumulative health education instruction. Providing appropriate health education to children is an effective way to improve their health (Seabert, Pigg, & Weiler, 2002). Health promotion and prevention in students is largely influenced by health education (Vamos & Zhou, 2009). Health education may increase content knowledge and create an environment supportive of healthy behaviors making an impact in a variety of health behaviors in children such as tobacco prevention, nutrition, and physical activity (Fahlman, Hall, & Gutuskey, 2013). Education empowers students with knowledge to improve health behaviors and is linked to increased income and access to quality health care (Woolf, Johnson, Phillips, & Philipsen, 2007). Inconsistencies in health education, threaten the vitality of health care, health insurance, economic security, and democracy in the United States (Kolbe 2005; Basch, 2010). Classroom teachers are the key to delivering quality health education to students (Clark, Brey, & Clark 2013). One of the primary responsibilities of elementary teachers in health education is implementing instruction (Patterson, Cinelli, & Sankaran, 1996). Health instruction is crucial at the elementary level, and elementary teachers are the ones charged with teaching health to students (Fahlman, Singleton, & Kliber, 2002). Efficacious teachers have great potential to positively impact the health status and academic performance of their students (Clark et al., 2013).

Format

Individual Presentation

Biographical Sketch

Sarah E. Toth, PhD

Dr. Toth is an assistant professor in Health and Human Performance at Alabama A&M University. She is an MCHES credentialed health educator with 7 years of experience in the field and over 10 as an educator. Two of those years were spent as an English as a Second Language (ESL) teacher, and in 2007 she was awarded a Japan Memorial Fulbright. She previously served as Health Education Coordinator with HealthTeacher.com where she created, implemented, and evaluated health education professional development in school districts throughout the country. Her research and publication interest areas include school health, health disparities, health literacy, and the connection between religion and health.

Retta R. Evans, PhD

Dr. Evans is an associate professor in Community Health at the University of Alabama at Birmingham and serves as the program coordinator. Dr. Evans is an MCHES credentialed health educator with over 10 years’ experience working to promote better health and nutrition policies and practices among children, adolescents and young adults. She has published over 30 peer-reviewed publications on these topics. Dr. Evans has spent five years working with the Alabama State Department of Education and Department of Public Health to implement comprehensive physical activity plans in K-12 schools. During this time she also served on two large school district committees to oversee the development of wellness policies to promote and improve nutrition policies and practices in these school districts. She also served on the State Department of Education committee to update the course of study standards for health education for K-12 schools in Alabama.

Keyword Descriptors

health, elementary education, health education, academic achievement, leadership, accountability

Presentation Year

2017

Start Date

3-8-2017 11:15 AM

End Date

3-8-2017 12:30 PM

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Mar 8th, 11:15 AM Mar 8th, 12:30 PM

Health is Elementary: Facilitating Elementary Health Education through School District Policy and Practice

Ballroom F

Research indicates that Elementary Health Education (EHE) is frequently omitted or haphazardly delivered, spelling disaster for student achievement. This session investigates facilitative policy and practices associated with the successful delivery of health education in the elementary grades.

Audience: District and school administrators, elementary teachers

Objectives: Participants will be able to…

describe the relationship between EHE and academic achievement.

summarize practices that facilitate EHE.

customize intervention recommendations.