Online Program

Reporting and Assessment Provisions in Local School Wellness Policies: Do They Stack up to Proposed Federal Requirements?

Sunday, November 1, 2015

Margaret Pickel, MPH, Institute for Health Research & Policy, University of Illinois at Chicago, Chcago, IL
Rebecca Schermbeck, MPH, MS, RD, Institute for Health Research and Policy, University of Illinois at Chicago, Chicago, IL
Jamie F. Chriqui, PhD, MHS, Institute for Health Research and Policy and Division of Health Policy & Administration, University of Illinois at Chicago, Chicago, IL
Elizabeth Piekarz, JD, Institute for Health Research and Policy, University of Illinois at Chicago, Chicago, IL
Background: The Healthy Hunger-Free Kids Act of 2010 (HHFKA) authorized the USDA to expand the federal wellness policy mandate by promulgating implementation guidelines that include policy reporting and assessment provisions. This presentation outlines the landscape of district-level wellness policy reporting and assessment data for school year 2012-13 and provides a baseline as to where districts stand relative to likely forthcoming requirements outlined in the USDA-issued Proposed Rule.

Methods: Wellness policies were obtained from a nationally representative sample of 664 public school districts. Policy provisions related to assessment and reporting were coded by two Master’s-level analysts using a standardized coding scheme. Summary statistics were generated using STATA.

Results: The majority of school districts do not meet Proposed Rule assessment and reporting requirements. Only a quarter of districts report on wellness policy implementation to the public, and less than 10% require that policy content is made publically available. While approximately half of districts mention a policy assessment plan, only 10% have a strong plan in place that includes outcome indicators and a person charged with tracking assessments. Few districts have adopted federally-proposed wellness policy reporting and assessment timelines.

Discussion: Proposed Rule requirements under the HHFKA include reporting and assessment provisions, which study findings indicate are currently weak or lacking altogether in wellness policies. When required, these provisions promote public transparency and ensure that parents have access to information pertaining to their children’s school wellness environment. This presentation provides policy opportunities for districts to strengthen assessment and reporting provisions in their wellness policies.

Learning Areas:

Public health or related laws, regulations, standards, or guidelines
Social and behavioral sciences

Learning Objectives:
Discuss the extent to which US public school districts include reporting and assessment provisions in their wellness policies Identify policy gaps and opportunities for policy improvement relative to wellness policy reporting and assessment provisions

Keyword(s): Policy/Policy Development, School-Based Health

Presenting author's disclosure statement:

Qualified on the content I am responsible for because: Ms. Piekarz, JD has served as lead legal researcher and analyst for the National Wellness Policy Study for the past three years. Ms. Piekarz's expertise and interests lie in the analysis of both state laws and district policies related to school wellness and nutrition standards, especially as they relate to federal mandates.
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.