School Health

Updates and Special Announcements

“NSBA encourages local school boards to recognize that health and learning are integrally linked and that schools are a critical link in community-wide efforts to promote life-long health and prevent health-risk behaviors.”  

(Beliefs and Policies of NSBA, 2011, Article IV, Section 5.6)

Working with and through its state school boards association partners, the National School Boards Association (NSBA) helps school board leaders and educators make informed decisions about issues that affect students’ academic achievement and healthy development. We do this by providing relevant and up-to-date information, technical assistance, and professional development on evidence-based policies, programs, and practices.

NSBA’s school health activities have been conducted in collaboration with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) since 1987. The school health program was founded and led by the tireless Brenda Z. Greene until her retirement in 2011.

See Publications for a list of resources and journal articles produced by NSBA on various school health topics. Visit NSBA’s bookstore to order hard copies.

Healthy Students are Better Learners

Students’ health status affects their academic achievement in many ways.  For example: 

  • students who do not smoke, drink alcohol, have sex, or engage in other health risk behaviors receive higher grades than their classmates who do engage in these health-risk behaviors (see chart below; CDC Youth Risk Behavior Survey, 2009)
  • there is substantial evidence that physical activity can help improve academic achievement, including grades and standardized test scores (CDC physical activity report, 2010)
  • providing breakfast at school reduces tardiness and absenteeism--nutritional status influences students’ cognitive performance, alertness, attention, memory, problem-solving skills, and social behavior (Basch, 2010)
  • managing asthma can reduce school absenteeism caused by acute symptoms; hospitalizations, doctor visits, sleep deprivation due to nocturnal asthma attacks, the need to avoid environmental triggers at school, and other reasons (Basch, 2010)


Looking for more information? See what’s Inside School Health on the right.

Recent School Health Publications

What School Boards Can Do to Enhance Student Health and Learning (2010)
This document suggests specific, concrete actions school boards can take to support a coordinated approach to health in line with the school board leadership concepts presented in NSBA’s Key Work of School Boards.

Families as Partners: Fostering Family Engagement for Healthy and Successful Students (2011)
Family involvement in children’s lives has been shown to reduce children’s health-risk behaviors, improve their attitudes toward school and learning, and improve academic achievement and student success. Family engagement in health issues is an excellent first step toward getting families involved in schools. This publication includes sample family engagement policies, evidence-based practices, examples of family engagement surveys, and more.

Safe at School and Ready to Learn: A Comprehensive Policy Guide for Protecting Students with Life-threatening Food Allergies (2011)
This policy guide outlines what needs to be included in a comprehensive food allergy policy; many of the recommendations can be applied to policies related to other chronic health conditions. The guide provides a glossary of terms, valuable information sources, sample state and local education policies, and a Food Allergy Policy Checklist. (Download the black and white version).

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