This paper reports the results of a project funded by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention intended to promote the use of science-based approaches to teen pregnancy prevention. As with other efforts to promote diffusion of innovations, adoption of these successful programs faced a number of barriers including lack of knowledge of programs that work, lack of funding for training and materials, devaluing science-based approaches, complexity of successful programs, politics, funding streams and compatibility with particular community characteristics. Nevertheless, five state and three national teen pregnancy organizations provided intensive technical assistance, produced materials, and provided training to encourage use of programs that work. Local barriers to their work included the fact that teen pregnancy rates were already dropping, instability of funding to pay for such programs, turnover of agency staff, the need for intensive follow-up to promote adoption, the internal organization of the initiative, and the fragility of local teen pregnancy prevention coalitions. Still, in each of five states, there was increased adoption of science-based approaches to prevent teen pregnancy.
"Condom distribution is another potentially controversial point, currently occurring in fewer than 1% of all middle schools and fewer than 5% of all high schools (Kann, , 2007). Once general content is outlined, there are many resources available to assist local educators in selecting appropriate curricula and associated resources (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 2008, n.d.; Kirby, 2007; Philliber & Nolte, 2008). An important component of school-based sex education programs deals not with sexuality, but with aspirations. "
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: This article provides an introduction to the October 2011 special issue of the Journal of School Health on "Healthier Students Are Better Learners."
Literature was reviewed and synthesized to identify health problems affecting school-aged youth that are highly prevalent, disproportionately affect urban minority youth, directly and indirectly causally affect academic achievement, and can be feasibly and effectively addressed through school health programs and services.
Based on these criteria, 7 educationally relevant health disparities were selected as strategic priorities to help close the achievement gap: (1) vision, (2) asthma, (3) teen pregnancy, (4) aggression and violence, (5) physical activity, (6) breakfast, and (7) inattention and hyperactivity. Research clearly shows that these health problems influence students' motivation and ability to learn. Disparities among urban minority youth are outlined, along with the causal pathways through which each adversely affects academic achievement, including sensory perceptions, cognition, school connectedness, absenteeism, and dropping out. Evidence-based approaches that schools can implement to address these problems are presented. These health problems and the causal pathways they influence have interactive and a synergistic effect, which is why they must be addressed collectively using a coordinated approach.
No matter how well teachers are prepared to teach, no matter what accountability measures are put in place, no matter what governing structures are established for schools, educational progress will be profoundly limited if students are not motivated and able to learn. Particular health problems play a major role in limiting the motivation and ability to learn of urban minority youth. This is why reducing these disparities through a coordinated approach warrants validation as a cohesive school improvement initiative to close the achievement gap. Local, state, and national policies for implementing this recommendation are suggested.
Journal of School Health 10/2011; 81(10):593-8. DOI:10.1111/j.1746-1561.2011.00632.x · 1.43 Impact Factor
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Introduction: US teens are having sex early; however, the vast majority of schools do not implement evidence-based sexual health education (SHE) programs that could delay sexual behavior and/or reduce risky behavior. This study examines middle school staff’s knowledge, attitudes, barriers, self-efficacy, and perceived support (psychosocial factors known to influence SHE program adoption and implementation). Methods: Professional school staff from 33 southeast Texas middle schools completed an internet or paper-based survey. Prevalence estimates for psychosocial variables were computed for the total sample. Chi-square and t-test analyses examined variation by demographic factors. Results: Almost 70% of participants were female, 37% white, 42% black, 16% Hispanic; 20% administrators, 15% nurses/counselors, 31% non-physical education/non-health teachers, 28% physical education/health teachers; mean age = 42.78 years (SD = 10.9). Over 90% favored middle school SHE, and over 75% reported awareness of available SHE curricula or policies. More than 60% expressed confidence for discussing SHE. Staff perceived varying levels of administrator (28%-56%) support for SHE and varying levels of support for comprehensive sex education from outside stakeholders (e.g., parents, community leaders) (42%-85%). Overall, results were more favorable for physical education/health teachers, nurses/counselors, and administrators (when compared to non-physical education/non-health teachers) and individuals with experience teaching SHE. Few significant differences were observed by other demographic factors. Conclusions: Overall, study results were extremely positive, which may reflect a high level of readiness among school staff for adopting and implementing effective middle school SHE programs. Study results highlight the importance of several key action items for schools.
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