Opportunity to Integrate Health into School Improvement Grant Program

October 03, 2014

We know that healthier students are more successful students. We also know that the lowest-performing schools in the U.S. face disproportionate health challenges, from asthma to vision problems to obesity. Our challenge: How do we bridge the gap and create a health-promoting environment for all students, including those in low-performing schools?

The U.S. Department of Education’s (ED) School Improvement Grant program (SIG) supports the nation’s lowest-performing public schools in a variety of vital ways, with $5 billion for school improvement efforts. Given that the students served by SIG are predominantly low-income and minority students, SIG could be a particularly important avenue for addressing health and wellness issues within these schools. But while health and wellness are mentioned in the SIG program, they are not highlighted as key strategies for improving academic achievement. However, we now have an opportunity to change that.

On September 8, ED released their proposed revisions to the SIG program and is seeking comments. You can view the proposed revisions and submit your comments here. We encourage you to send in comments urging ED to integrate health and wellness into SIG. You can view Healthy Schools Campaign’s comments here. Please feel free to modify Healthy Schools Campaign’s comments to meet your own needs and submit them by the October 8 deadline.

Healthy Schools Campaign’s recommendations cover four focus areas: health and wellness metrics, professional development, school health infrastructure and evaluation. Calling out reform strategies that include health components will help ensure that grantees recognize that supporting student health is an effective strategy for improving achievement and that funding can be used to support health-related interventions.

We encourage you to submit your own comments by October 8 and let ED know that they are missing several simple, vital opportunities to boost academic success through health promotion and school wellness. We look forward to working with the Department of Education to ensure SIG grantees understand the important connection between health and learning.