Online Program

Measuring the School Health Environment in the District of Columbia

Monday, November 2, 2015

Grace Friedberger, MPH, Wellness and Nutrition Services Division, Office of the State Superintendent of Education, Washington, DC
Background: The DC Healthy Schools Act (HSA) of 2010 (D.C. Law 18-0209) is a policy that changes the school environment to ensure that schools are a healthy place for students to achieve academically and learn healthy nutrition and activity habits for life. In the legislation, schools are required to submit annually to the Office of the State Superintendent of Education (OSSE) a School Health Profile (SHP) that documents the school health environment and compliance with the HSA.

Methods: The SHP is a self-report survey that is completed by the principal of each school and contains 10 sections with 78 questions. The SHP is a public document available on the OSSE and individual schools’ websites. Comparison between 2011 (or 2012 when new questions were added) and 2014 was conducted to measure change over time.  

Results: From 2011 to 2014 more schools had a certified health education teacher on staff (14.7 percentage point increase) and served locally grown foods at least once a month (14.8 percentage point increase). From 2012 to 2014 more schools required students to enroll in health education and physical education courses (8.3 and 11.2 percentage point increase).

Conclusion: The School Health Profile is a useful way to share information with the parents and stakeholders about the school health environment and may be used to complement the CDC’s School Health Profile and School Health Index. It is possible that the public reporting of the SHP contributes to schools’ adopting a healthy school environment and implementing the law.

Learning Areas:

Implementation of health education strategies, interventions and programs
Public health or related laws, regulations, standards, or guidelines
Public health or related organizational policy, standards, or other guidelines
Public health or related public policy

Learning Objectives:
Assess the impact of the DC Healthy Schools Act on student learning and the school environment. Describe the benefits of using a School Health Profile to measure the school health environment.

Keyword(s): Community Health Assessment, School-Based Health

Presenting author's disclosure statement:

Qualified on the content I am responsible for because: Ms. Friedberger conducts the data collection and analysis of the Healthy Schools Act School Health Profile for the Office of the State Superintendent of Education.
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.