Academic journal article Journal of School Health

Overview and Summary: School Health Policies and Programs Study 2006

Academic journal article Journal of School Health

Overview and Summary: School Health Policies and Programs Study 2006

Article excerpt

School health programs can play a unique and important role in the lives of youth by helping improve their health-related knowledge, attitudes, and skills; healthy behaviors and health outcomes; education outcomes; and social outcomes. (1) A high-quality school health program is a coordinated and comprehensive set of courses, services, practices, and policies that meet the health and safety needs of students and school staff in kindergarten through grade 12. The essential elements of an effective school health program include 8 interrelated components, many of which already exist to some extent in most schools: health education, physical education and activity, health services, mental health and social services, nutrition services, healthy and safe school environment, faculty and staff health promotion, and family and community involvement.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) works with other federal agencies; national nongovernmental organizations; and state and local departments of education, health, and social services to plan and implement school health programs. For example, in fiscal year 2007, the Division of Adolescent and School Health spent $14 million in support of coordinated school health programs and another $42 million in support of HIV prevention education throughout the nation.

In addition, the CDC monitors the characteristics of school health programs nationwide. The first School Health Policies and Programs Study (SHPPS) was conducted in 1994. (2) SHPPS 1994 was the first national study to measure policies and programs across 5 school health program components: health education; physical education; health services; nutrition services; and health policies prohibiting tobacco, alcohol, and other drug use and violence. State- and district-level data focused on elementary, middle, and high schools. School- and classroom-level data were limited to middle and high schools only.

In 2000, the CDC conducted the second SHPPS. (3) Questionnaire content and study design were revised and expanded. SHPPS 2000 measured all 8 school health program components and did so among elementary, middle, and high schools at the state, district, school, and classroom (where applicable) levels. At that time, SHPPS 2000 was the largest study of school health programs ever undertaken in the United States.

SHPPS 2006 is the most recent comprehensive description of school health programs nationwide. While the study design and sample size were similar to those of SHPPS 2000, questionnaire content was expanded to address 3 new topics--crisis preparedness and response, the physical school environment, and school climate--all of which reflect new issues and concerns in school and public health. In addition, computer-assisted telephone interviewing and paper-and-pencil questionnaires were used to collect state- and district-level data. Whenever possible, questionnaire wording remained consistent with questionnaire wording from SHPPS 2000 to maximize opportunities for examining changes over time.


Similar to SHPPS 2000, SHPPS 2006 was designed to answer the following questions:

1. What are the characteristics of each school health program component at the state, district, school, and classroom (where applicable) levels and across elementary, middle, and high schools?

2. Is there someone responsible for coordinating and delivering each school health program component and what are their qualifications and educational background?

3. What collaboration occurs among staff from each school health program component and with staff from outside agencies and organizations?

4. How have key policies and practices changed over time?


SHPPS 2006 data will be used to:

* measure 6 Healthy People 2010 (4) objectives (Table 1)

* support public and private school health program initiatives

* help states and districts determine technical assistance, professional preparation, and funding needs and priorities among their schools

* help parents, school board members, school administrators, teachers, and other community members determine how their own school health policies and programs compare to those nationwide

* help understand how well school health policies and programs address important public health issues and the priority health-risk behaviors that occur among students

* help understand whether schools are implementing policies and practices with evidence of effectiveness

* assess how school health policies and programs have changed since 2000. …

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