Quality Assurance in Teaching K-12 Health Education: Paving a New Path Forward
To be effective, school health instruction should be taught by health educators who have graduated from accredited health education teacher education programs and are certified in health education. Unfortunately, the nation has failed to ensure that all those who teach health in schools are well prepared. States vary in the required coursework for health teachers in terms of initial licensure and continuing education for licensure renewal; most elementary teachers are not required to receive preparation in health education; health education and physical education are often viewed as synonymous disciplines; support for in-service education of health teachers is often lacking; and more research is needed in professional preparation and development of school health educators. This article provides a call to action in five areas to strengthen both the professional preparation and professional development of school health educators. Given that education is a social determinant of health, public health educators must become stronger allies in supporting school health to promote health equity. Public health practitioners can advocate to state and community school decision makers for comprehensive school health education taught by teachers with appropriate professional preparation and certification in health education. Public health faculty can educate their students about the Whole School, Whole Community, Whole Child framework and effective strategies for its implementation, and seek rigorous professional preparation and certification and accreditation standards for their school teacher preparation programs. National health and education organizations can call for new leadership and investments in health education teacher preparation and development for a brighter future.
Keywords: HEPSA II, Area 4, Health Promotion, School Health
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