Vermont law (16 V.S.A § 131) defines comprehensive health education as “systemic and extensive” educational program and requires this education for K-12 students. School health programs for K-12 students prove to be more effective in changing health behaviors than occasional programs on a single health topic. Vermont Education Quality Standards (EQS) stipulate each Supervisory Union/Supervisory District/Unified District (SU/SD/UD) have a written and delivered curriculum aligned with standards approved by the State Board of Education that enables students to engage annually in rigorous, relevant, and comprehensive learning opportunities that allows them to demonstrate proficiency in seven content areas, including health. This web page includes information about Vermont’s Health Education standards, a portrait of a graduate considering Health and Physical Education, links to the Linking Health and Learning newsletter, and resources that support health education and sexual health education.
Spotlight on Equity Resources
Educational equity means that every student has access to the resources, opportunities, and educational rigor they need at the right moment in their education, whatever their race, gender/identity, sexual orientation, ethnicity, religion, language, ability, family background, or family income may be. (Adapted from CCSSO, Leading for Equity.) The Spotlight on Equity Resource below provides a list of considerations and resources for the purpose of supporting equity and access while emphasizing high-quality and culturally sustaining learning opportunities for all students.
Health literacy is defined as "the capacity of individuals to obtain, interpret and understand basic health information and service, and the competence to use such information and services in ways that enhance health." The State Board of Education adopted the National Health Education Standards (NHES) in May 2015 to be used as a framework for schools to develop a PK-12 health curriculum that will help ensure that our young people will have the foundational knowledge and proficiency at using health skills to maintain good health that supports their ability to learn and pursue personal life goals.
Sexual Health Education Standards
The Agency of Education (AOE) is responsible for helping to increase the awareness of sexual health related information and services that are available to promote student wellness and increase academic success. The National Health Education Standards (NHES) influenced the development of the National Sex Education Standards. While the NHES focus on a student’s ability to understand key concepts and learn particular skills to manage personal health, they do not address any specific health content areas required by 16 V.S.A § 131 content for sexuality education. The National Sexuality Education Standards support educators by defining the minimum, essential content and skills for K-12 sexuality education given student needs and assists schools in designing and delivering sexuality education that is planned, sequential and part of a comprehensive school health education approach.
This document/tool explores the ways that health can be integrated into K-12 curriculum/instruction through an interdisciplinary approach. Integrating health instruction across the curriculum supports a school-wide culture of wellness and health promotion where student health is relevant and nurtured in ALL spaces in the school. An interdisciplinary approach, furthermore, enhances the meaning and real-world relevancy for both the health education topic/skill and the integrated subject area (e.g., math or social studies). This guide offers a “suite” of resources to support all educators in identifying linkages and developing curricular materials to support interdisciplinary instruction. The purpose of this document is not to supplant current health education practices, but to provide further tools that school districts can use to supplement, and further advance, current comprehensive health education programs (as required by 16 V.S.A § 131).
The Comprehensive Health Interdisciplinary Framework is a “living document” whereby educators are encouraged to share feedback and/or integrated health lesson/unit plans that they have created with the Agency of Education. Please do so using the Comprehensive Health Interdisciplinary Framework Feedback Form.
The Agency of Education provides schools with sample proficiency-based graduation requirements for health and physical education based on state-adopted standards. These sample graduation proficiencies are examples of a rigorous proficiency-based graduation framework that meets Education Quality Standards requirements. A Vermont Portrait of a Graduate (PoG) was collaboratively developed to be used as a tool for reviewing and refining local proficiency-based graduation requirements, as well as a guide for making instructional decisions. The PoG specifies the cognitive, personal, and interpersonal skills and abilities that students should be able to demonstrate upon graduation considering six attributes: learner agency, global citizenship, academic proficiency, communication, critical thinking and problem solving, and well-being. Each attribute includes key descriptors and performance indicators.
Health and physical education programs should provide students with valuable learning experiences that support the development of PoG attributes. The following diagram highlights specific health and physical education program skills and abilities that are associated with PoG attributes. Information about how the six attributes of a Vermont PoG can be addressed through health and physical education can be found below.
The Vermont Framework for Proficiency: Health Literacy description serves as a foundation on which to build Health Proficiency-Based Graduation Requirements, Critical Proficiencies, and Priority Performance Indicators.
Information about how the six attributes of a Vermont PoG can be addressed through Health and Physical Education can be found below.
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Essential Topics in Sexual Health Education: A resource for teaching sexual health education that identifies high priority topics and best practices for teaching these topics.
- Comprehensive Health Web Pages
- Healthy and Safe Schools focuses on creating healthy, safe and supportive school learning environments using the Vermont Local Wellness Policy Guide, the Whole School, Whole Community, Whole Child Model (WSCC), School Health Profiles and the Youth Risk Behavior Survey.
- Local Wellness Policy Guide: Supports for Comprehensive Health Education lists recommended evidence-based or research-based strategies and resources to support development and/or implementation of the Comprehensive Health Education section of a local wellness policy.
- Health Services: This web page is focuses on School health services that play a vital role in health outcomes for children.
- Nutrition: This web page provides information about how federal Child Nutrition Programs are administered, including the National School Lunch Program, School Breakfast Program, Child and Adult Care Food Program and Summer Food Service Program, which provide nutritious meals and snacks in schools, childcare settings, summer program sites and adult day centers. The Agency provides program sponsors with guidance, technical assistance, training, monitoring and evaluation to ensure that every program receives the maximum federal and state funding available and operates in compliance with federal and state requirements.
- Physical Activity: This web page includes the Physical Activity Guidelines for Vermont Schools - Active Students are Better Learners that helps school personnel interpret and implement physical activity requirements identified in the Education Quality Standards as well as resources to support physical activity program development.
- Sexual Health: This web page focuses on the implementation of Sexual Health Education programs as defined in 16 V.S.A. § 131 (Comprehensive Health Education) as well as of sexual health-related information and services that are available to promote student wellness and increase academic success.
- Substance Abuse Prevention: This web page includes School-based Alcohol and Drug Prevention recommendations and resources for school-based substance abuse prevention programs. Youth Risk Behavior Survey and Tobacco Grant information can also be found on this web page.
- Vermont Department of Health: The Vermont Department of Health website includes information, resources and curricula for educators who help students understand their own health and important public health issues.
- SHAPE America Health Education web page: Health Education Standards and SEL Crosswalk to Health Education Standards
- SHAPE America Download Library - Health: Classroom-ready and teacher-friendly resources you can use right now to help your students on the path to health and physical literacy.
- EVERFI: EVERFI has resources for teaching students to make healthy choices in a safe environment. EVERFI partners with sponsors nationwide to offer interactive, online health resources to K-12 schools free of charge.
- KidsHealth: KidsHealth offers educators free health-related lesson plans for PreK through 12th grade. Teacher guides include discussion questions, classroom activities and extensions, printable handouts, and quizzes and answer keys – all aligned to National Health Education Standards.
- Learn to be Healthy: Learn to be Healthy is a standards-based resource that includes lesson series on several health topics.
- The Health Teacher: Current, relevant, adaptable resources for connecting health curriculum to the world we live in.
USDA Food and Nutrition Services: Serving Up MyPlate – A Yummy Curriculum
The Technical Assistance Resource Guide (TARG), created by the Sexual Violence Prevention Task Force pursuant to Act 1 of 2009 and updated in 2014, provides guidance for schools to build their capacity for and knowledge of sexual violence prevention. Additional resources for schools and educators:
Act 151 of 2012 requires that information regarding and practice of compression-only cardiopulmonary resuscitation and the use of automated external defibrillators becomes a part of comprehensive health education.
Email Ian Burfoot-Rochford.