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Multisite Evaluation of Coordinated School Health

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Public Health Problem

Leading causes of death, disability, and social problems in the United States are often associated with health risk behaviors that can begin during childhood or adolescence. Schools, in partnership with community agencies, can address these risk behaviors, as well as other health issues such as mental health and asthma, through coordinated school health (CSH).

CSH is a systematic approach to improving the health and well-being of all students so they can fully participate and be successful in school. The process involves bringing together school administrators, teachers, other staff, students, families, and community members to assess health needs; set priorities; and plan, implement, and evaluate all health-related activities.

To better articulate the CSH characteristics that are essential for students to be healthy and successful in the nation’s schools, CDC’s Division of Adolescent and School Health (DASH) will partner with several school districts for a multisite evaluation of district-level CSH. The evaluation is designed to identify characteristics of strong systematic approaches to CSH and enhance understanding of what makes these approaches successful. DASH will use the results to help school districts across the country adopt practices that are essential to strong CSH so that district staff, students, families, and communities can all work together to create safer, healthier environments for youth, and help instill healthy behaviors that will last well into adulthood.

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Initiative Description

In October 2008, DASH put out a nationwide call for nominations of exceptionally strong district-level CSH and received more than 80 nominations from school health leaders across the country. Nominated school districts submitted applications and provided additional information through phone interviews. Using criteria that helped identify strong programs, six districts were selected to receive site visits from DASH to gather more in-depth information about their approaches to CSH.

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Evaluation

In February and March 2009, site visits were completed with six districts nominated for having exceptionally strong district-level CSH. During the visits, DASH gathered more in-depth information about the districts’ CSH and interest in collaboration on future evaluations. In fall 2009, DASH selected three of these districts to participate in additional evaluation activities.

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