“The Critical Connection Between Student Health and Academic Achievement”

The Critical Connection Between Student Health and Academic Achievement:How Schools and Policymakers Can Achieve a Positive Impact is a report recently issued by the California Endowment, a major health-related private foundation in California. It’s the first in a series of reports the Foundation is developing. The purpose of these reports is “to develop a framework for injecting health—physical health, mental health and developmental health—into the state’s education reform dialogue.”

I’ve got to say the research in this first report is really to-notch. It’s very accessible, and I’d recommend you read it. The information certainly bolsters what we write in our book about the need for schools to look at how other issues affect the lives of students and their families.

The report’s recommendations for action, on the other hand, seemed a bit disappointing to me. They were all great ideas, but except for sharing a story about how the teacher’s union cooperated in signing up kids for the state’s health insurance program (a similar effort might really come in handy if health reform passes), they mostly seemed to me nice-sounding goals with no effective strategies offered on how to accomplish them.

Of course, as I quoted, their stated focus was “to create a framework” for discussion, so offering practical strategies might not have been one of their goals. I hope they offer more of them, though, in their future papers.

Nevertheless, The Endowment has definitely performed a service to those of us who are pushing schools to look at other issues. Such clearly written research is unfortunately all too rare….

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