Student Health Goes Hand-in-Hand with Academic Performance

We are successfully navigating another school year, and the most recent numbers on students’ desire to succeed in school are looking optimistic. Data from Direction Survey Fall 2015 early assessments reveals that 96% of 9-12th graders and 91% of 6-8th graders surveyed are motivated this year to do well in school.

Educators and school staff are working hard to offer students the resources and fuel they need to ensure learners’ best performances. A high school counselor from a school district in Southern California explains: “Our students come from a variety of socio-economic backgrounds, family structures, and cultures. It’s our goal to make sure they are fed, feel safe, and have the resources they need to effectively learn and communicate in our academic environment.”

The Center for Disease Control’s September 2015 Health and Academics online resource at reports student health-related factors can include “hunger, physical trauma, emotional abuse, and chronic illness [which] can lead to poor school performance.” As a response to the data they are collecting, schools across the country are increasingly offering critical repossess strategies to address the negative health factors students face. As further indicated by the CDC, “Health-risk behaviors such as early sexual initiation, violence, and physical inactivity are consistently linked to poor grades and test scores and lower educational attainment.”

Schools are the right place for a healthy start, as they work to offer students connectedness programs to recognize and support students with risk factors that can impede their academic success. This school year, data collection can inform schools as they reflect on the ways they are combining academic agendas with student various support services. Data from the Nutrition and Fitness portion of the Direction Survey database shows schools that 63% of middle school students are in need of an increase in fruits and vegetables in their diets, and that at least half of them do not meet national daily exercise standards on the weekends. After School Choices survey results indicate that only 21% of middle school and 27% of high school students participate in after school programs. Data gathering such as this helps schools pinpoint areas where they can add activities or programs to serve students.

The Direction Survey database has recently partnered with the National At Risk Youth Survey at Georgia Southern University ( to assist schools in ongoing, relevant data integration and program development. When schools recognize the needs of the whole student and observe patterns of behavior on a consistent basis, they better foster a climate of personal and school-wide success.