Addressing Challenges to the Reliable Large-Scale Implementation of Effective School Health Education

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The long-held priority of teaching young people the knowledge and skills needed for healthy living has recently been diminished in many preK-12 schools. Driven by federal and state priorities, laws, and policies associated with high-stakes testing, instruction in untested subjects has been reduced or eliminated in most schools in order to devote more attention to tested subjects, like reading, math, writing, and science. This article proposes a pathway to ensure that all children are able to learn what society knows about health. To that end, four challenges to the reliable, large-scale implementation of effective school health education are identified: (1) establishing school health education as an undeniable social and cultural priority through improved advocacy; (2) strengthening educational institutions’ capacities to reliably deliver large-scale, high-quality, school-based health education; (3) collaboratively coordinating efforts of health-promoting governmental and nongovernmental organizations that generate thought leadership for school health education; and (4) creating multidisciplinary research capacities for solving problems associated with the implementation of reliable, large-scale, effective school health education. By implementing specific strategies associated with each challenge, health educators can promote the social and system-level conditions required to support, elevate, and ensure delivery of effective health education to every student in every school every year.

Keywords: HEPSA II, Area 3, Advocacy, Health Promotion, School Health, Systems

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