Student Health Essential to Increase Academic Performance

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California Healthy Students Research Project

The California Healthy Students Research Project is aimed at finding a link between student performance and physical and socio-emotional health and well-being.

This report shows that children who are physically active are more likely to perform better in the classroom. However, only 15 percent of teenagers and 30 percent of children get the recommended amount of physical activity each day.

Research also show that well-nourished students find it easier to concentrate in school, which relates to the California free or reduced lunch program. Although 50 percent of California public school students are eligible for the program, only 28 percent of students participate in it.

Students are also more likely to attend school and focus when they feel safe in the environment. Despite this, 37 percent of California secondary school students report bullying or harassment at school in the past year. Overall, fewer than 60 percent of students feel safe at school.

The report stated that students who experience caring and connection at school score better on tests and are less likely to drop-out or engage in negative behaviors. Among ninth graders, 31 percent said they have high levels of caring relationships with adults at school, while 47 percent felt as if adults had too high of expectations for them. In addition, 12 percent felt as if they had meaningful opportunities to participate in class.

When students are emotionally healthy, they are less likely to have development and behavioral problems. In one California city, students who were given access to school-based mental health centers showed a 30 percent decrease in absences and failures and a 95 percent decrease in disciplinary action.

When students are physically healthy they are more likely to attend school more and perform better. Asthma, for instance, causes students to miss between two and 18 days of school, and the condition is synonymous with lower test scores and worse all-around academic performance.

The report made numerous recommendations on how to increase students’ health and well-being. Among the recommendations are: offering healthy lifestyle choices at school, putting health and support services within students’ reach, preparing educators to participate in the program, involving students’ families, and coordinating state and local resources.

Free. 22 pages,