243129 Addressing Both Health and Academic Achievement Gaps in Rural Contexts

Monday, October 31, 2011: 9:10 AM

Jody Langdon, PhD , Department of Health and Kinesiology, Georgia Southern University, Statesboro, GA
Ashley Walker, PhD, CHES , Department of Health and Kinesiology, Georgia Southern University, Statesboro, GA
Gavin Colquitt, EdD , Department of Health and Kinesiology, Georgia Southern University, Statesboro, GA
Background/Significance/Purpose: High-poverty rural school systems across the country are struggling to address dual youth challenges that threaten their students' future quality of life—obesity and academic achievement. In rural southeastern Georgia, students suffer from other poor health outcomes due to the disparities in resources available in the school and local community. Socioeconomic disparities that result in gaps in health/physical activity are also the same disparities that are linked to the gaps in academic achievement. The purpose of this study was to examine health and demographic indicators as predictors of academic achievement among a rural Georgia school district.

Methods and Results: Georgia recently adopted a policy requiring schools to implement the FITNESSGRAM, an assessment battery for all components of fitness beginning fall 2011. Georgia Southern Health and Physical Education faculty partnered with a local rural school district in Screven County, Georgia to pilot test the FITNESSGRAM and examine the association between FITNESSGRAM scores and scores on the state's standardized test (CRCT). Participants included 1143 school aged students (500 elementary, 476 middle school, and 167 high school). Hierarchical step-wise regression analyses were conducted on math and reading standardized tests, using separate FITNESSGRAM testing protocols (PACER, back-saver sit-and-reach, curl-ups, push-ups, and trunk lift), body fat percentage, ethnicity, race, gender, and SES as predictors. Results are in-progress.

Conclusion/Recommendations: The results will help in planning community and school-based interventions for improvement of health and academic achievement as well as provide information on best practices and challenges faced while working with a rural school district.

Learning Areas:
Administer health education strategies, interventions and programs
Advocacy for health and health education
Conduct evaluation related to programs, research, and other areas of practice
Diversity and culture
Other professions or practice related to public health
Planning of health education strategies, interventions, and programs

Learning Objectives:
Identify the benefits of FITNESSGRAM testing to health and academic achievement. Apply best practices in planning interventions for improvement of health and academic achievement in a rural community

Keywords: Child/Adolescent, School Health

Presenting author's disclosure statement:

Qualified on the content I am responsible for because: I am qualified to present because I assisted with the data collection of this project and I am a Certified Health Educator
Any relevant financial relationships? No

I agree to comply with the American Public Health Association Conflict of Interest and Commercial Support Guidelines, and to disclose to the participants any off-label or experimental uses of a commercial product or service discussed in my presentation.