Coordinated School Health:
Tennessee is implementing coordinated
school health statewide—and here’s what it looks like.
Joyce V. Fetro, Connie Givens, and Kellie Carroll
In 1918, the National Education Association included health as one of seven cardinal principles of education. The authors noted that “‘book larnin’ may be inhibited by an overworked thyroid or an undernourished body” and “temper tantrums or daydreaming may be induced
by hunger” (Oberteuffer, 1918, p. 8). More recently, David
Satcher, former U.S. Surgeon General, stated, “Ignoring
student health is shortsighted . . . because an investment in
health is an investment in better academic performance”
(Satcher & Bradford, 2003).
Research confirms a strong relationship between student
health and school performance (Association of State and
Territorial Health Officials & Society of State Directors of
Health, Physical Education, and Recreation, 2002; Ehrlich,
2005; Symons, Cinelli, James, & Groff, 1997). So why have
U.S. schools and districts minimized or eliminated health and
physical education programs; reduced the number of school
nurses, counselors, and other health professionals; and
focused only on “the basics”? In large part, because of No
Child Left Behind (NCLB).
But in these difficult times, one approach can help—coordi-
nated school health. In the short term, this program can
provide a safe haven for teaching and learning by addressing
the immediate needs of the whole child. In the long term, it
can have a significant effect on youth development and
academic achievement (Fetro, 2005; Murray, Low, Hollis,
Cross, & Davis, 2007).
What Is Coordinated School Health?
Coordinated school health is not another new program to add
to schools’ already overflowing plates; it’s a framework for
managing new and existing health-related programs and services in schools and the surrounding community. Such an
approach incorporates eight interrelated components that
historically have functioned independently: health education;
physical education; school health services; counseling,
psychological, and social services; nutrition services; staff
wellness; a healthy school environment; and family and
community involvement. These eight components can help
improve students’ knowledge, behaviors, attitudes, and skills
in health; they can also improve academic and social
outcomes (Kolbe, 2002, 2005).
Coordinated school health is an ongoing process. People
committed to the health of young people communicate; they