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Using the School Health Index

The School Health Index (SHI): Self-Assessment & Planning Guide was developed by CDC in partnership with school administrators and staff, school health experts, parents, and national nongovernmental health and education agencies to

  • Enable schools to identify strengths and weaknesses of health and safety policies and programs
  • Enable schools to develop an action plan for improving student health, which can be incorporated into the School Improvement Plan
  • Engage teachers, parents, students, and the community in promoting health-enhancing behaviors and better health

The SHI has two activities that are to be completed by teams from your school: a self-assessment process and a planning for improvement process.

  • The self-assessment process involves members of your school community coming together to discuss what your school is already doing to promote good health and to identify your strengths and weaknesses. The SHI allows you to assess the extent to which your school implements the types of policies and practices recommended by CDC in its research-based guidelines for school health and safety policies and programs.
  • The planning for improvement process enables you to identify recommended actions your school can take to improve its performance in areas that received low scores. It guides you through a simple process for prioritizing the various recommendations. This step will help you decide on a handful of actions to implement this year. Finally, you will complete a School Health Improvement Plan to list the steps you will take to implement your actions.

The SHI currently addresses six health topic areas, including:

  • Physical activity
  • Healthy eating
  • Tobacco-use prevention
  • Unintentional injury and violence prevention (safety)
  • Asthma
  • Sexual health, including HIV, other STDs and pregnancy prevention

It also includes cross-cutting questions, which address policies and practices that apply to all six health topic areas.

Completing the SHI is an important first step toward improving your school's health promotion policies and practices. Your school can then act to implement the School Health Improvement Plan and develop an ongoing process for monitoring progress and reviewing your recommendations for change. Your school's results from using the SHI can also help you include health promotion activities in your overall School Improvement Plan.

It is important to know what the SHI is and what it is not.

The SHI is a... and not a...
Self-assessment and planning tool Research or evaluation tool
Community-organizing and educational process Tool for auditing or punishing school staff
Focused, reasonable, and user-friendly experience Long, bureaucratic, painful process
Process that identifies no-cost or low-cost changes Process that requires expensive changes
Process that provides justification for funding requests Process that identifies unfunded mandates

SHI Modules

The SHI is based on CDC's research-based guidelines for school health programs, which identify the policies and practices most likely to be effective in reducing youth health risk behaviors. The SHI contains 8 modules, structured around CDC's eight-component model of coordinated school health:

  1. School Health and Safety Policies and Environment
  2. Health Education
  3. Physical Education and Other Physical Activity Programs
  4. Nutrition Services
  5. Health Services
  6. Counseling, Psychological, and Social Services
  7. Health Promotion for Staff
  8. Family and Community Involvement

This model highlights the importance of involving all eight components, which can have a powerful impact on student health behaviors. See the glossary for definitions of these terms.



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