Comprehensive Health Education
A comprehensive approach to health education includes physical, social-emotional and personal wellness as well as high-risk behavior prevention, which includes injury, alcohol, tobacco, other drugs, violence, and bullying.
- Our sequential, mastery-based, P12 health education curriculum is consistent with the new Comprehensive Health Education and updated Physical Education State Standards.
- The Joint Committee on National Health Education Standards recommends that students in Pre-K to grade 2 receive a minimum of 40 hours and students in grades 3 to 12 receive a minimum of 80 hours of instruction in health education per academic year.
- All health education units or modules are research-based or consistent with recognized best practices criteria, such as the Characteristics of an Effective Health Education Curriculum.
- Our health education staff is well-trained, utilizes experiential instructional strategies, and receives ongoing, current professional development.
- Review the district’s current health education program. What areas of the program are strong? Deficient?
- Develop a plan for updating and strengthening the health education program district-wide. Be sure to reach out to the staff, students, parents and community for input.
- Make health education a priority across all grade levels.
- Integrate health education where possible within core curriculum.
- Work with your school schedule at the elementary level and include a specific timeframe for health instruction during the day.
- Offer health education courses in middle and high school that ensure students can demonstrate mastery of skills and concepts articulated in Colorado’s Comprehensive Health Education Standards
- Engage the community to gain deeper insights into its priorities regarding health education and include an analysis of any community health behavior data.
- Develop a board policy to provide an equitable, safe, healthy, positive learning environment district-wide that teaches and practices lifelong wellness skills for the entire school community — students, teachers and administrators. Use the standards as a common, consistent, and age appropriate framework.
- Build awareness among constituents about what health education is and why it’s relevant to today’s students.
- Create health standards tools and lessons relevant to your school’s and peer’s needs.
- Design campaigns to create awareness, advocate for, and advertise health and how to be healthy.
- Plan and run assemblies to K-8.
- Use portfolios, presentations, and projects that you create in health education, science or family and consumer sciences classes to promote healthy messages throughout the entire school.
- Find and promote “Health Buddies”; keep each other accountable.
- Create Morning Announcements that are relevant to health; e.g. Health Tips, Wellness Videos
- Present information and presentations on the Comprehensive Health Content Standards.
- Talk to your school leaders about having an anti-bullying week or events throughout the year.
- Make connections between physical, social and emotional health (e.g. posters, presentations).
- Promote and model being healthy; promote the benefits with posters of the youth leaders in your school (e.g., similar to Got Milk? posters).
- Advocate for Pre-K to grade 2 students to receive a minimum of 40 hours and students in grades 3 to 12 to receive a minimum of 80 hours of health instruction annually.
- Develop partnerships with community organizations and health specialists who can complement the district’s approach to health education with additional resources, programs and professional development.
- Support student leadership/voice in health-related activities.
- Become a leader or a supporter of health education in your school district.
- Participate in conversations led by administrators and school board members about health education. Help identify community issues, priorities and values.
- Develop partnerships with districts to provide additional resources, programs and professional development focused on health education.
The Adams 12 Five Star School District serves almost 43,000 students in its Kindergarten through 12th grade classrooms. An element of its success is the work of administrators, teachers, and staff who are making strides as they focus on the Comprehensive Health Education and Physical Education Content Standards in order to meet not only state and district requirements, but also the needs of their student population.
The district began aligning its curricula to the standards in 2010. They created a “Whole Standards Committee” made up of middle and high school representatives who were tasked with updating and improving assessments to meet standards, and they reviewed alignment with rubrics. Their desired outcome was to find opportunities to create 21st century learners in the district—those who develop skills in critical thinking, information literacy, collaboration, self direction, and invention. Adams 12 also invests in its staff through professional development around the standards. Many secondary and high school teachers have attended trainings and are working through unit planning to accomplish their comprehensive health targets.
“The Comprehensive Health Standards give students the ability to be life-long learners, teaching them to take charge of their lives and the many decisions they will make along the way and giving them hope that it isn’t too late to change negative behaviors into positive ones,” shared a teacher at Mountain Range High school. “There is always hope. Each student has hopes and dreams, and it is up to us to give them the knowledge and skills it will take to get them there.”
Located near the Colorado’s southern border, the rural Archuleta School District enrolls just over 1350 students, 58% of whom qualify for free and reduced lunch. Concerned about the health and wellness of both the students and the community, the members of the district’s Health and Wellness committee—clergy, business people, parents, teachers, and students—partnered with the school district to improve health and wellness outcomes for everyone. The school district distributed the Healthy Kids Colorado Survey and found that substance abuse and sexual health issues rose to the top of students’ needs.
Knowing that new Comprehensive Health Standards were on the horizon, the community-district collaborative started examining new curricula. They valued curricula that were evidence-based, engaging, skills-oriented, and involve parents, and using the HECAT to analyze available curricula, this community was able to come to consensus on “The Great Body Shop” for K-8 students and “Safer Choices” for high school students, which begins contraceptive education in 7th grade. The district also ensured that all elementary students received 30 minutes of health education a weekas a specials rotation; middle school students received one year of PE/Health, and high school students were required to take one semester in 9th grade. This allowed every student, K-9, to receive all standards. Health and Prevention Specialists teach health at the elementary school, while PE and science teachers are health teachers at the middle school, and in the high school, PE teachers are trained to offer the health course.
Students learned skills to cope with stress, how to say no to drugs, alcohol, and violence, strategies to advocate for their own health, respectful inclusion of the LGBTQ community, and they shared what they learned with their parents and the community. In the face of tremendous cultural and economic changes, the Healthy Kids Colorado Survey showed that health risk indicators have stayed steady or declined over the years.
“I am pleased with our district’s health curriculum. Based on sound principles and best practices in health education, I am confident our students are receiving the educational tools they need to make sound, life-changing decisions,” shared David Hamilton, High School Principal.
Explained Julie Greenly, Elementary School Health Teacher, “Young children today are faced with difficult decisions regarding the use of alcohol, tobacco, and other drugs, as well as involvement in bullying, unwanted physical contact, or other types of violence. Health education emphasizes that everyone has the right to personal privacy and safety, teaching students skills to assertively advocate for themselves in situations that are unsafe or uncomfortable.”
There’s a wealth of resources available to get you started. Among the most relevant to health:
Find research on the link between healthy students and positive academic outcomes.
Colorado Department of Education — Comprehensive Health and Physical Education Standards
See state content standards that provide intentional opportunities to integrate and differentiate health concepts and skills.
This site provides a hub of Comprehensive Health and Physical Education information and resources to support the academic achievement of all students in Colorado
Colorado Legacy Foundation’s Comprehensive Health & PE Standards promotional and instructional resources
Get a few resources to get started in using the standards to promote life-long healthy behaviors in all students.
Get comprehensive school health education programs and training for educators, parents and others committed to improving health. Resources include curricula and training, events, and standards and assessments. Click here.
Colorado Youth Matter
Get help selecting and implementing an evidence-based program.
EdNews Parent Colorado
Access news, tip sheets and background information on the most talked about issues affecting students, including healthy schools.