Tagged “Research”

Healthy School Communities

Health and Learning News and Updates


School Ends Policy of Tying PE Grade to BMI Measurement: Parents at a Chicago-area school get together to pressure school officials to discontinue linking students' body fat measurements to fitness grades. The BMI Index will remain a tool used to track physical fitness levels, but will no longer be shared with the students on progress reports.

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Whole Child Podcast

Catch Up with the Whole Child Podcast

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In December we started a two-month look at why physical activity and physical education (PA & PE) are critical to educating the whole child. We are examining the research about the need for PA & PE; exploring some of the recent criticism; examining the relationship between PA & PE and academic achievement, engagement, and social and emotional health and learning; and considering how physical activity can be expanded across the day.

Catch up on this topic, starting with the Whole Child Podcast on PE, Recess, and Beyond: The Implications of Movement, with moderator Sean Slade, director of ASCD Healthy School Communities, and guests

Then, check out recent posts on physical activity and physical education on the Whole Child Blog and share your thoughts. Have you seen a decrease in physical activity and physical education in your school and community? What is the effect on young people in your life?

Klea Scharberg

Free Webinar: Leading and Managing a Differentiated Classroom

Carol Ann Tomlinson and Marcia Imbeau

Join authors, educators, and differentiated instruction experts Carol Ann Tomlinson and Marcia Imbeau for a free webinar on their book, Leading and Managing a Differentiated Classroom.

Tuesday, January 4, 2011, 4:00 p.m. ET
Register now!

The prospect of "managing" a classroom of young learners is daunting to most teachers at the outset of their careers. Over time, most teachers become at least somewhat more comfortable with "managing" students. Nonetheless, "classroom management" remains a key impediment to using differentiated instruction for many, if not most, teachers both veteran and novice. Use this webinar as a way of reflecting on your own classroom or classrooms in your school or district and to strengthen your understanding of what it means to be both leader and a manager in a setting designed to address the learning needs of all students in the classroom.

The webinar will explore three critical questions that may inhibit teacher confidence in establishing classrooms that are flexible enough to attend to the range of learning needs of students in those classrooms:

  • What is the difference between leading students and managing them?
  • What are some steps in effectively leading students?
  • What are some strategies for managing the details required for effective and efficient differentiation?

Connect with Tomlinson on her website, and follow her on Twitter. Connect with Imbeau by e-mailing her at mimbeau@uark.edu.

You can find forthcoming and archived ASCD webinars at www.ascd.org/webinars.

Klea Scharberg

Children Are Less Active Today: Why?

The U.S. Department of Agriculture's Center for Nutrition Policy and Promotion works to improve health and well-being by developing and promoting dietary guidance that links scientific research to the nutrition needs of consumers. MyPyramid, the educational tool that replaced the Food Guide Pyramid in 2005, includes guidelines on finding a balance between food and physical activity.

"Physical activity and nutrition work together for better health. Being active increases the amount of calories burned. As people age their metabolism slows, so maintaining energy balance requires moving more and eating less," advises MyPyramid. It is recommended that children and teenagers should have a minimum of 60 minutes of moderate to vigorous physical activity a day.

But a 2008 study published in the Journal of the American Medical Association found that as children grow older they are becoming less active, and many do not meet the recommended guidelines. Researchers believe factors such as increased traffic, neighborhoods with fewer parks, and cuts in school recess have an effect. The concern is the potential for childhood obesity and a host of health problems children could possibly face into adulthood if the trend is not reversed.

Whose responsibility is it to ensure that children and teenagers get the physical activity they need?

Healthy School Communities

Health and Learning News and Updates


Survey: Only 23 Percent Want Feds to Set Child Nutrition Standards: A Rasmussen Reports survey of U.S. adults found that 23 percent said the federal government should set nutritional standards for public schools, while 31 percent said they want parent-teacher groups to do it and 17 percent said it should be left to state governments. Data showed that 53 percent of adults said they followed reports about the childhood-nutrition law at least somewhat closely.

More States Are Allowing PE Waivers or Substitutions: The number of states that allow students to substitute extracurricular activities or otherwise opt out of physical education has increased since 2006 from 27 to 32, data show. One physical education professor says a push for students to take more academic courses and districts' efforts to save money are behind the trend, which occurs amid greater worry about childhood obesity.

Better Grades May Mean Better Health: Findings from a study published in the December Journal of Health and Social Behavior support already existing evidence that links higher student achievement with long-term health. The study shows that not only is there a correlation between greater educational attainment and physical well-being, but also that a higher level of academic performance proved to be a significant factor as well. Read more.


Promising District Practices: Are you looking for strategies that schools and districts across the United States are using to effectively address school health? The National School Boards Association's (NSBA) Promising District Practices website shares success stories addressing a wide range of school health–related policies and practices in a practical and easily accessible way.

Enhancing Student Learning by Supporting a Coordinated Approach to Health: Whole Child Partners NSBA and the American School Health Association (ASHA), with ASHA's Council for Administrative Support for School Health, have developed parallel documents to help school boards and administrators enhance student learning by supporting a coordinated approach to health. The documents can be used to communicate how school board and administrator support for a coordinated approach to health contributes to academic achievement and why and how school leaders should have a coordinated approach to the health of students.

Youth Substance Use Interventions: Where Do They Fit Into a School's Mission? This report addresses differences between use and abuse and briefly summarizes some major issues and data relevant to substance use and treatment of abuse and dependency. It also highlights the importance of adopting a broad perspective in understanding the causes of substance problems seen at schools.

Take Action

Reducing Risk Behaviors by Promoting Positive Youth Development: The National Institutes of Health is offering grants to institutions and organizations that "propose to enhance our understanding of effective positive youth development programs and the mechanisms responsible for positive health and developmental outcomes." Award amounts vary and eligible applicants are public or state controlled or private institutions of higher education; nonprofit organizations with or without 501(c)(3) IRS status; for-profit organizations; and various other organizations, including non-U.S. entities. Deadline: February 5, 2011.

School Employee Wellness Awards Program: The Directors of Health Promotion and Education (DHPE)is now accepting applications for the 2010–11 School Employee Wellness Awards Program that recognizes schools and school districts that implement school employee wellness programs. Monetary awards will be granted in the amounts of $250 (bronze), $500 (silver), and $1,000 (gold) to be reinvested in their employee wellness programs. Review an archived webinar from DHPE that further explains the grant application process. Application materials must be postmarked by February 1, 2011.

Get Green With Planet Connect: Interested in integrating environmental health awareness into your school? Planet Connect announces the 2011 Get Green Video Contest. In partnership with the Leaders of Environmental Action Films, the Get Green Video Contest is asking U.S. high school students to make a 30–120 second video that shows how everyday actions impact the ocean. Deadline: February 23, 2011.

Healthy School Communities is a worldwide ASCD effort to promote the integration of health and learning and the benefits of school-community collaboration. It is part of a large, multiyear plan to shift public dialogue about education from a narrow, curriculum-centric and accountability system focus to a whole child approach that encompasses all factors required for successful student outcomes. Visit the Healthy School Communities group on ASCD EDge and share everything from ideas and solutions to common concerns.

ASCD Whole Child Bloggers

Child Obesity Research Studies and Facts


This article has been reposted with permission from Whole Child Partner SPARK. SPARK is a research-based organization that disseminates evidence-based physical education, after school, early childhood, and coordinated school health programs to teachers and recreation leaders serving Pre-K through 12th grade students worldwide. Visit www.sparkpe.org for more information and additional blog posts.

In February of this year, First Lady Michelle Obama presented her ambitious Let’s Move campaign to battle the terrifying childhood obesity epidemic. Lady Obama was inspired not only from her family and children’s lifestyle, but also by some startling obesity statistics that have been gathered by medical researchers over the past thirty years.

A child is considered obese if their BMI (Body Mass Index) is 30 or higher, and this BMI level in anyone, especially children has the potential to cause very severe health issues. Recent studies using DEXA scanning devices show that this number is probably much higher than originally thought. There is no better time to solve the obesity issues among America’s children, and the adults of every generation.

  • Childhood obesity has tripled in the past 30 years. In 1980, the obesity rate of 6-11 year olds was 6.5%, in 2008 had tripled to 19.6%. For toddlers and preschoolers aged 2-5, the obesity levels have risen from 5% to 12.4% in the same amount of time.

Child Obesity Research Studies and Facts
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  • If both parents are overweight, a child’s likelihood of being overweight is increased by 60-80%. The chance of an obese child growing into an obese adult is about 70%. Children perceive the number one immediate issue of being overweight is social discrimination, as reported by overweight children. This has the ability to prevent them from exercising with other children, which leads to antisocial and depressive tendencies, as well as lifetime psychological effects.
  • There are a number of serious health conditions that arise from obesity, especially when a person’s joints and arteries are being challenged at such a young age. Some of the main illnesses that become incredibly more likely to occur due to childhood obesity include heart disease, type 2 diabetes, arthritis, gall bladder disease and asthma.

Child Obesity Research Studies and Facts
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  1. Heart Disease: One of the biggest killers in America today, heart disease prevention is very important in early life. Obese children that grow to obese adults carry the increased risks of heart disease with them.
  2. Type 2 Diabetes: Also known as adult-onset diabetes, the two main causes of this disease are related to an unhealthy lifestyle: lack of physical exercise, and obesity. Unlike type 1 diabetes, type 2 does not generally have a genetic cause.
  3. Arthritis: While most arthritic patients are older, obese children can develop this disorder due to excessive weight and pressure on growing joints and bones.
  4. Asthma: Obesity often affects lung capacity, which can create dangerous and disconcerting asthma attacks.
  • The cost of obesity is high. Not only are there lifelong health issues to consider, but those who are obese pay an average 30% more in health costs, and 77% more in medication costs. It requires more foods that are high in “empty” calories to provide energy, and larger meals in general are much more expensive.

Reasons Behind the Numbers

Many studies on current lifestyles have drawn a number of conclusions. It is generally accepted that a combination of poor lifestyle choices has greatly contributed to these disturbing numbers.

  1. Kids are eating more empty calories than ever before. Rather than healthy fruits and veggies and nutritious snacks and lunches, parents are serving processed snacks and various forms of high fructose corn syrup. Schools do not generally provide healthy food options, and kids with meal assistance plans have no choice but to consume unhealthy food items. Even kids with options often have an array of processed snacks, fried foods, sweets and sodas to purchase, and very few healthy options.
  2. Forms of entertainment have drastically changed. Just a few decades ago, kids spent the majority of their time playing outside with other kids from their neighborhood, or with their siblings in the backyard. Now they spend their time playing video games, watching television, and sitting in front of their computers.
  3. Physical education budgets in many school districts have taken huge hits. Programs such as the No Child Left Behind Act have begun to engulf exercise and activity time such as PE and recess. Low budgets have led to fewer teachers and less equipment for gym class and after school physical activities. Many schools now have to charge nominal fees for the students to participate in school sports. The less fortunate cannot afford these fees and are forced to opt out. The old strenuous and fun PE games for adolescents are being replaced by less-stimulating games that do not require the active involvement of all participants.
  4. Today’s children spend much more time in cars than ever before. They are much less likely to walk to school, the bus stop, or the park. They don’t bike a few miles to get to the pool in the summer, and they don’t jog to the local ballpark. Parents no longer walk their kids to their friends’ houses anymore, but rather drive them a few blocks away due to time constraints or safety reasons.

Child Obesity Research Studies and Facts

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Healthy School Communities

Health and Learning News and Updates


Schools Prepare for Likely Implementation of Child-Nutrition Law: Some Colorado schools are preparing to implement the new Healthy, Hunger-free Kids Act, which is expected to be signed into law by President Barack Obama. If approved, the law will increase the free-lunch subsidy for schools that improve nutrition standards. Some people are concerned the additional funding may not be enough for schools to meet the bill's goals, and restricting unhealthy items typically sold in school vending machines could affect schools' fund-raising.

Read more »

Podcast Whole Child Podcast

PE, Recess, and Beyond: The Implications of Movement

Download Podcast Now [Right-Click to Save]

Join us throughout December and January as we explore why physical activity and physical education (PA & PE) are critical to educating the whole child. We'll examine the research about the need for PA & PE; explore some of the recent criticism; examine the relationship between PA & PE and academic achievement, engagement, and social and emotional health and learning; and consider how physical activity can be expanded across the day.

This episode of the Whole Child Podcast starts our PA & PE conversation with moderator Sean Slade, director of ASCD Healthy School Communities, and guests

Have you seen a decrease in physical activity and physical education in your school and community? What is the effect on young people in your life?

Klea Scharberg

Child Development Roundup

Why are the developmental sciences important in the classroom? In November, we looked at child development and why academic progress cannot be separated from the emotional, social, and cognitive changes that occur simultaneously. Effective application of the science of learning and child development in early childhood, the middle grades, and adolescence can be used to maximize learning and help ensure that students are healthy, safe, engaged, supported, and challenged.

What is the use of transmitting knowledge if the individual's total development lags behind?

—Maria Montessori

Listen to the Whole Child Podcast with guests Eric Schaps, founder and president of whole child partner the Developmental Studies Center and member of the National Council for Accreditation of Teacher Education’s national expert panel on increasing the application of knowledge about child and adolescent development and learning in educator preparation programs; Chip Wood, author of Yardsticks, a resource for parents and teachers on child development, and director of Curriculum, Instruction, and Professional Development in the Gill-Montague Regional School District; and John Lee, an exceptional educator with Prince George’s County Public Schools in Maryland who has grounded his teaching in the Comer School Development Program to improve his teaching and student learning.

Question why developmental milestones aren't taken into consideration in the classroom when we know that social and emotional factors affect cognitive learning throughout early childhood and adolescence and that not every child learns how to walk at the same time, reads at the same level, or behaves in the same way. Isn't it just common sense?

Learn about historical perspectives on what is "developmentally appropriate" with guest blogger and learning and human development expert Thomas Armstrong. Is a historical perspective necessary in discussing and applying developmental sciences in education? Explore multiple intelligences theory in a recent ASCD webinar with Dr. Armstrong and his thoughts on restoring a human development curriculum.

Think about cognitive structures—when is it too late to develop them? Cognitive structures are so basic that we assume everyone has them, but many middle and high school students arrive in school without these tools. Betty K. Garner explores these questions and shares classroom strategies in ASCD's Educational Leadership magazine.

Reflect on relationships and their importance with ASCD's Healthy School Communities Director Sean Slade as he explains the "positive youth development" approach and learn classroom management tips that help build a positive classroom environment from educator and author Caltha Crowe.

Read how other educators make time to meet students' emotional needs and share your experiences among colleagues.

Explore resilience research in education—a focus on healthy development and successful learning, especially with young people facing difficult life challenges in their homes, schools, and communities—with guest blogger and education consultant Sara Truebridge, and reflect on what it looks like in a school or community.

Find principles of developmental science that can affect the way teachers teach and the way students learn from whole child partners the American Montessori Society, Developmental Studies Center, National Association of School Psychologists, and National Middle School Association.

Join the conversation on Facebook and Twitter.

Share these resources, research, and stats:

Most teacher training programs require minimal coursework in child development, and few researchers receive significant education training, basically isolating each group from its natural counterpart. Edutopia explores the lack of exchange and understanding between academic researchers and educators and believes that professional connections are the key to change. As you build your academic researcher-educator connection, here are a few research findings that could be easily translated into classroom practice.

In this interview, Maurice Elias, director of Rutgers University's Social and Emotional Learning Lab and Edutopia blogger, talks about the importance of emotion in education and provides an example of his work translating research into classroom practice.

How can we prepare educators to apply developmental principles effectively to maximize students' academic, social, and emotional development?

ASCD Whole Child Bloggers

Resilience, Research, and Educational Reform

Sara Truebridge

Post submitted by guest blogger and education consultant Sara Truebridge, EdD. Contact Truebridge at resilienceST@gmail.com.

Resilience is one's ability to spring back from adversity. Those who engage in resilience research view the world and individuals through positive, protective, and preventive models as opposed to traditional problem-based, deficit, pathology models. The vast body of resilience research has provided the foundation for many popular movements, such as asset development, positive youth development, strengths-based practice, and positive psychology.

Resilience research in education focuses on healthy development and successful learning, especially with young people facing difficult life challenges in their homes, schools, and communities. Resilience research emerged over 40 years ago as researchers began asking the question, Why do some children who are threatened by exposure to high-risk environments successfully adapt while others do not? The study of resilience has expanded from an early focus on the individual to a broader, more inclusive focus that situates risk not in children, but rather in a variety of socio-economic systems, institutions, and harmful public and social policies.

Michael Rutter (1979), Bonnie Benard (2003), and other researchers as documented by the National Research Council and the Institute of Medicine (2004) have already shown that motivation, learning, and the achievement gap are just some areas of education where resilience research has vital implications for practice and policy. Their data indicate that when classroom environments and schools consistently foster caring relationships, maintain high expectations for all students, and provide meaningful opportunities for students to participate and contribute, students from these nurturing environments are more successful in school.

One of the reoccurring messages in resilience research posits the relationship that beliefs have with resilience: resilience begins with what one believes. Educators who possess an understanding of resilience and the belief that student resilience is a process that can be tapped within each student can create educational environments that make a positive contribution to increasing student success. Researchers including Frank Pajares (1992) support the importance of studying beliefs in the context of education because beliefs influence the behaviors of education practitioners, which in turn influence the behaviors and success of their students. Thus, affecting educators' belief systems about student resilience through well designed and supported education preservice or professional development programs are two concrete ways to transfer resilience research into education practice that would promote positive school experiences and education success for all.

Resilience research supports the argument that discussions about education reform and transformation cannot be limited to discussions about best practices as reflected in curriculum and programs. Such best practices are only as good as the practitioners who are able to implement them with their pedagogical best practices, thus creating educational climates conducive to student learning. As Joan Walsh (1997) states, "When there's improvement, it usually isn't that the services per se were different, it's about a change in the person who delivered the service, and the way they delivered it."

If education reform is truly to be grounded in sound research, it is rather interesting to see so many reforms that focus only on band-aid solutions that research has shown can actually be counterproductive to improving education outcomes. Some of these solutions when implemented—including ones that involve extending the school day, increasing homework, purchasing new curriculums and programs, implementing more standardized testing, or creating competitions for resources—prove to be short-sighted. These solutions often sacrifice quality for quantity.

Research consistently finds that education practitioners do not necessarily need to be inundated with new curriculums and programs, and students do not necessarily need more homework and longer school days. Education and resilience researchers consistently find that education practitioners need to be supported if any increase in teaching and learning is to occur and be sustained. One vital, valuable, and cost-effective way to support educators is to provide them with an understanding of the concept of resilience and support them in developing, nurturing, and sustaining practices that allow them to transfer resilience research into their classrooms and schools.

Resilience research in education specifically recognizes three protective factors that, when present in an educational environment, mitigate risk and enhance positive educational climates that promote student engagement, motivation, and self-efficacy, which in turn increase student success. These three protective factors are: (1) fostering caring relationships, (2) conveying high expectations, and (3) promoting opportunities for meaningful participation. So what do these three protective factors look like in a classroom or school?

Strategies that promote caring relationships are as simple to implement as being aware of making personal contact with students every day—something as basic as a "hello" or a smile. Another classroom strategy that promotes caring relationships is getting to know individual students' interests outside of school. Strategies teachers embrace that foster high expectations include encouraging students to develop a "stay with it" attitude and perspective when confronting challenges. Another strategy that conveys high expectations is helping students reframe language from a negative to a positive—instead of a student hearing that he is hyperactive, that particular student could be hearing that he is energetic; instead of being labeled as being argumentative, that student could begin to identify herself as having conviction, etc. Strategies that encourage meaningful participation and contribution include giving students more voice and choice in classroom and school issues. Another strategy that fosters meaningful participation and contribution for students is when classrooms and schools engage in peer-helping, cross-age helping, and cooperative learning.

It is unfortunate that, all too often, education policies and reforms are adopted without sound research and adequate attention paid to the voices in the trenches—our teachers and students. The potent and profound words of Haim Ginott (1972) clearly articulate what many education practitioners already know and what many students agree to be true:

I've come to a frightening conclusion that I am the decisive element in the classroom. It's my personal approach that creates the climate. It's my daily mood that makes the weather. As a teacher, I possess a tremendous power to make a child's life miserable or joyous. I can be a tool of torture or an instrument of inspiration. I can humiliate or humor, hurt or heal. In all situations, it is my response that decides whether a crisis will be escalated or de-escalated, and a child humanized or de-humanized.

We are in the midst of an education crisis in the United States. In addressing this crisis, we need to question some of the current policies and practices that have been adopted in the name of education reform. We can start by questioning whether education reform focusing solely on spending more money to alter services, programs, and curriculum may be misdirected.

When we use the semantics and refer to making changes in education as "education reform," we often are compelled to look at the parts of education that are believed to be in need of improvement. Perhaps it is time that we reframe the needs in education by altering semantics and saying that the education system is in need of "transformation." With this perspective, teachers, administrators, policymakers, parents, and students may more readily embrace a theory of change in education, where the change agent resides not with the programs incorporated in the system, but rather within the individuals creating and implementing the system.

Resilience research supports that all children have the capacity for resilience. Individuals with an interest in increasing the education success of all students can benefit by developing a deeper understanding of student resilience and an enhanced awareness regarding the role that one's beliefs have in shaping such a concept. As Patrice De La Ossa (2005) says, "Although schools can make structural changes, until schools address underlying beliefs and perceptions, the educational system is failing our youth and society." Providing education practitioners with opportunities to reflect on their beliefs, especially how they pertain to student resilience, is a positive first step in the goal of improving student success for all.


Benard, B. (2003). Turnaround teachers and schools. In B. Williams (Ed.), Closing the achievement gap (2nd ed.) (pp. 115–137). Alexandria, VA: ASCD.

De La Ossa, P. (2005). "Hear my voice:" Alternative high school students' perceptions and implications for school change. American Secondary Education, 34, 24–39.

Ginott, H. G. (1972). Teacher and child. New York: MacMillan.

National Research Council and the Institute of Medicine (with Committee on Increasing High School Students' Engagement and Motivation to Learn & Board on Children, Youth, and Families Division of Behavioral a Social Sciences and Education). (2004). Engaging schools: Fostering high school students' motivation to learn. Washington, DC: National Academies Press.

Pajares, F. (1992). Teachers' beliefs and educational research: Cleaning up a messy construct. Review of Educational Research, 62, 307–332.

Rutter, M. (1979). Protective factors in children's responses to stress and disadvantaged. In M. W. Kent & J. E. Rolf (Eds.), Primary prevention of psychopathology: Social competence in children (pp. 49–74). Oxford, UK: Blackwell.

Walsh, J. (1997). The eye of the storm: Ten years on the front lines of new futures—an interview with Otis Johnson and Don Crary. Baltimore, MD: Annie E. Casey Foundation.

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