OLYMPIA - The Washington State Board of Health and the Office of Public Instruction combined to do a study on health issues and academic performance and the results were released September 2009. The study was titled "School-based health interventions and academic achievement." Students deemed to be at risk academically in the study had a cumulative grade average below 2.0 (C work).
In general about 20 percent or one student in five was at risk academically. Two health factors nearly tripled that percentage of academic risk to just below 60 percent - student's use of tobacco and student use of marijuana.
There were several factors that doubled or nearly doubled the academic risk for students. Those factors near the 40 percent mark were drinking two or more sodas per day, alcohol use, severe asthma, feeling unsafe at school, depression, obesity, not eating breakfast, and insufficient exercise. The study said the good news is that many proven interventions could improve students' health and therefore their chances for academic success.
The report explains that the strongest interventions include policies, facilities and school environment and supportive health services. Classes in Naselle and Vancouver dealing with making healthy choices are models for the program. Community engagement such as Seattle's Van Asselt Elementary School program has increased student academic success. Parents from five ethnic communities participated in school activities at Van Asselt about their various cultures. Quincy school district held a Wellness Advisory Council and completely re-wrote their policies on health curriculum.
Programs such as YAK, TATU, and Renaissance at Ilwaco High School are positive steps for intervention and for increasing student health and student academic success. For more information on the study go online to the Web site (www.HealthySchoolsWA.org).