Success Stories

What's working in schools. Real results, real impact, real stories.
Investments in Adolescent and School Health Programs Help Youth Become Healthy, Successful Adults

CDC’s Division of Adolescent and School Health (DASH) works to protect the nation’s youth from HIV, STDs, and pregnancy through programs, policies, and partnerships. DASH supports local, state, territorial and tribal nation education and health agencies as well as non-governmental organizations (NGOs) to improve the health and well-being of our nation’s youth.

School-based surveillance provides critical data about health risk behaviors and experiences facing youth. These data help inform effective school-based prevention programs that connect education and public health efforts to strategies that work:

  1. Deliver quality health education
  2. Create systems to link students to health services
  3. Establish safe and supportive school environments

Program Impact

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New evaluation studies on CDC’s What Works In Schools program show benefits to students. This primary prevention program supports school districts in implementing three strategies in middle and high schools—quality health education, access to health services, and safe and supportive school environments. Study findings indicated that students whose schools put the three strategies in place were less likely to report that students

  • had ever had sex,
  • had four or more sexual partners,
  • were currently sexually active,
  • missed school because of feeling unsafe,
  • had been forced to have sex, and
  • had ever or were currently using marijuana.

These study findings shows that when schools implement CDC’s program, they can prevent some of the most significant risks to the health and well-being of students.

Making the Grade: Mental Health

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CDC’s national 2019 Youth Risk Behavior Survey (YRBS) data provides an important pre-COVID-19 snapshot of the mental health of U.S. youth. More than 1 in 3 high school students reporting persistent feelings of sadness or hopelessness in 2019—a 40% increase since 2009. Support from schools, families, and communities is key to changing this trend and promoting good mental health among adolescents. Find out how schools were able to provide student support during the COVID-19 pandemic.

DASH Program Success Stories

Learn about each of the communities CDC funds and their program successes.

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DASH Program Highlights

CDC School Programs Empower Students for Success

For 30 years, CDC has worked with education and public health agencies to promote and implement school health programs, policies, and practices that protect adolescent health. CDC’s long term investment in partnerships with education agencies has led to better school health policies and programs at the state and local levels.

This story highlights DASH’s policy work over three decades.