Connecting Health with Academic Performance

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Healthy Schools Campaign’s education policy initiatives have one central goal—to make health an integral part of how we define academic excellence.

Student health and wellness are critically important, considering that chronic health conditions among young people—like asthma, diabetes and mental health issues—have doubled over the last few decades.

Low-income and minority students are at increased risk of health problems that hinder learning. Research continues to confirm the relationship between student performance and health:

  • Children who are overweight or obese are more likely to have lower grades and test scores.
  • Students with unaddressed mental health issues are nearly three times more likely to drop out.
  • Each student with severe asthma misses about eight school days per year.

Our nation’s 52 million students spend more time at school than anywhere else outside of home. If schools are dedicated to preparing young people to be successful adults, health must be prioritized as an integral part of the school environment, including:

  • Promoting professional development programs that equip teachers, principals and other school staff to support health and wellness.
  • Supporting health services in schools.
  • Integrating health and wellness metrics into school accountability and recognition programs.
  • Developing state and federal agencies' capacity to address school health.

What is HSC Doing?

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Starting in early 2012, Healthy Schools Campaign hosted a series of forums to engage leaders in health and education around one question: How can we better integrate health into education policy and practice to ensure improved student health and learning outcomes. Those discussions culminated in a HSC’s report, Health in Mind.

The report outlines several policy recommendations that allow the federal government to support schools as they integrate school health efforts with academic goals. The recommendations address topics incuding professional development, school accountability and recognition programs, parent engagement and school health services.

Healthy Schools Campaign presented the recommendations to U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan and U.S. Secretary of Health and Human Services Kathleen Sebelius at an event in May 2012. Both secretaries publically expressed their committment to work with us on implementation. 

Healthy Schools Campaign is currently engaged in state and federal level discussions to move this effort forward. To learn more about HSC’s recommendations and how you can get involved, visit the Health in Mind section of our webiste.

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