ASHA Talking Points for Comment Guidance on ESSA

1. Health and academic achievement are inexorably linked.

Healthy students learn better than unhealthy students and are more likely to thrive and be successful. Evidence shows health has a great influence on academic performance and education outcomes. Students spend a majority of their time in school, therefore, schools can have a significant impact on developing healthy behaviors so students attend class and succeed academically. Administrators, teachers, school board members, parents, community members, state and federal agencies should support the connections between health and learning. Collaboration between learning and health is fundamental.

2. The leading causes of high school dropout are health-related.

Healthy students attend school regularly and are ready to learn. To reduce the high school dropout rate, we need to address health-related factors such as absenteeism due to truancy, chronic health issues, or poverty-related issues such as child care and teen parenting. A safe and supportive environment improves student attendance and enables all students to focus on learning. Students who feel connected and safe at school are also less likely to engage in risk behaviors which increases the likelihood of dropping out of school.

3. Certified and qualified teachers and health professionals are crucial to the delivery of evidence-based, youth-centered curricula.

Qualified health teachers must be certified to teach health education just as physical education teachers must be certified to teach physical education. Health service professionals appropriately certified and credentialed in their respective fields and who engage in on-going professional learning, maintain their professional license and ensure programs and services are supported by current research and practice in both health and education. Teacher preparation programs must educate all future teachers and administrators about the Whole Child issues and the use of evidence-based, student centered curricula.

Please click here for more detailed information and click here to submit your comments. Please include the Docket ID ED-2015-OESE-0130-0001 with your comments. Please note that these comments must be received by January 21, 2016 at 11:59pm ET.