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Utah Health Education Secondary Core Curriculum
It is health that is real wealth and not pieces of gold and silver. – Mahatma Gandhi
Health education, integral to the success of students in Utah’s educational setting, provides opportunities for students to acquire knowledge, skills, and attitudes necessary for life-long, health-enhancing behaviors. Schools can better achieve their basic educational mission if students are healthy and fit physically, mentally, socially, and emotionally. Habits that young people establish will impact their future health status in a positive or negative manner. Schools share the responsibility with parents and communities to help prevent unnecessary injury, disease, and chronic health conditions that lead to a low quality of life, disability, or early death. In addition, positive attitudes and behaviors developed early in life help to prevent many of the social and educational problems that confront society, including failure to complete high school, drug addiction, broken homes, unemployment, and criminal behavior.
Medical breakthroughs have allowed Utahns to cope more easily with serious health challenges. Many diseases that formerly threatened lives are now prevented through immunizations or treated effectively with new drugs, and/or procedures. However, children and adolescents are still facing the prospect of early deaths due to:
The Utah State Health Education Core Curriculum emphasizes developing positive, life-long, health-related attitudes and behaviors. Although these attitudes and behaviors begin in the home, the school, in partnership with local school boards and community agencies, can provide support and reinforcement for parents and families. The standards and objectives in the Health Education Core Curriculum incorporate the National Health Education Standards providing Utah’s students commonality with students across the nation.
The primary goal of Utah’s Health Education Core Curriculum is to develop the knowledge, skills, and behaviors essential to become “health-literate.” A health-literate person understands the medically accurate principles of health promotion, and disease prevention and is able to apply the knowledge to personal attitudes and behaviors that support healthy living. A health-literate person is able to:
Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA)
Many issues in the health education curriculum are sensitive in nature. The FERPA federal law details sensitive issues related to rights and privacy of families. Health educators must be knowledgeable of this law and its implications for instruction. To access the FERPA document go to: www.ed.gov/policy/gen/reg/ferpa/index.html.
A Separate Core Curriculum Area
With only two semesters of health education offered at the secondary level and with the serious and dangerous challenges facing Utah’s students today, health education must be offered as a separate class. The focus of health education is unique from all other areas of education and is designed to change or develop attitudes and behaviors that will assist students in the decisions they will make over the course of a lifetime.
Local districts may opt to offer Health Education I (.5 credit) in 7th or 8th grade and Health Education II (.5 credit) in 9th or 10th grade. These courses must be taught by educators endorsed in health education.
Utah State Board of Education Position
Because of the sensitive nature of some of the materials utilized in the Utah State Secondary Health Education Core Curriculum, respect for parental rights regarding core content and delivery will continue to be valued by the Utah State Board of Education.
Utah State Law allows parents to opt students out of any aspect of the human sexuality curriculum. Students who have been opted out are not tested on the information missed in the process, but teachers may require an alternate assignment unrelated to the sexuality curriculum. Parental permission is required before certain topics can be taught. Such topics include contraception, sexually transmitted diseases, and breast and testicular self-exams for the detection/prevention of cancer. Health educators are trained and entrusted to teach delicate issues with sensitivity that does not undermine established family values.
Law and Policy - Human Sexuality Instruction
In teaching human sexuality, particular attention must be paid to Utah Law and Utah State Office of Education Policy. This information can be accessed on the USOE Health Education website. A strong abstinence message has always been and will continue to be an expected element of the Utah State Health Education Core Curriculum. All teachers are required to present a clear message to students that sexual abstinence before marriage and fidelity after marriage are culturally and morally expected. These choices offer the healthiest course of action for young people.
It is essential that students are continuously encouraged to dialogue with their parents about human sexuality and that parents are encouraged to become involved in this critical aspect of the core curriculum. A resource guide to assist parents and teachers can be found on the USOE Health Education website. http://www.schools.utah.gov/curr/health
Parent Permission Form
Parents should be the primary source of human sexuality instruction and values relating to this subject. Educators must:
The Parent Permission Form is available on the USOE Health Education website in a number of languages. It is highly recommended that teachers, when sending home the Parent Permission Form, attach a disclosure statement describing what will be taught and a copy of Core Curriculum Standard 5, Objectives 2 and 3, and all of Standard 6.
Responsibilities of the Local Educational Agency (LEA)
Health instruction must include factual information free from racial, ethnic, and gender bias that provides opportunities for students to explore different ideas within the parameters of Utah Law. Local Boards of Education in Utah develop policy for human sexuality instruction, and their instructional policies may include less than what the law allows but never more. Teachers need to be knowledgeable of State Law and LEA policies. Because of the sensitive nature of this content area, LEAs may offer all or certain aspects of the curriculum in gender-separate classroom settings. (Utah Administrative Code R277-474-5)
To protect teachers from using inappropriate materials and/or guest speakers, State Law requires each LEA to have a working human sexuality instructional materials committee in place. The purpose of this committee is to evaluate instructional materials not on the USOE Recommended Instructional Materials System(RIMS) list and to approve guest speakers and their presentations. The composition of the committee is outlined in State Law. RIMS may be accessed at: http://delleat.schools.utah.gov/rims/index.html.
The Utah State Office of Education offers annual professional development for all new or newly assigned teachers of human sexuality. LEAs are required to offer follow-up trainings for teachers at least once every three years. In addition, LEAs are required to annually complete and submit a form provided by the Utah State Office of Education that summarizes their human sexuality instructional practices.
Teachers must be factual and objective in presenting information to students. LEAs shall implement abstinence-based instruction that teaches young people to abstain from sexual intercourse until they establish a mutually monogamous relationship within the context of marriage.
The following shall not be taught:
An educator may not intentionally elicit comments or questions about matters subject to parental consent requirements. Responses permitted under this section must be (1) brief; (2) medically accurate; (3) objective; (4) consistent with core curriculum content and Utah Law and Policy; and (5) age- appropriate to students involved.
Utah educators may respond to spontaneous student questions for the purpose of providing accurate data or correcting inaccurate or misleading information or comments made by students in class regarding human sexuality. (Utah Administrative Code R277-474-7) Students should be encouraged to consult their parents for further discussion.
LEAs are encouraged to map the secondary health education core curriculum, specifying the goals, activities, and community assistance offered at each grade level. Mapping will enhance instruction and communication among teachers and create a smooth transition from one level of instruction to the next.
Prevention education is vital to health education. It saves lives and money and assists students in avoiding negative consequences. The world today challenges students in many ways. Among the problems teenagers face are substance abuse, mental illness including depression and suicide, sexually transmitted diseases, teen pregnancy, internet dangers, and illnesses impacted by obesity.
Utah’s Prevention Dimensions program assists teachers and the community with curriculum and professional development to help students develop strategies to avoid harmful behaviors and/or situations. The curriculum parallels the Utah State Health Education Core Curriculum and is an excellent resource for teachers statewide.
Health education is life skills education. Unlike any other curriculum area, every health education lesson has life skills implications. Thinking and reasoning, personal and social responsibility, personal communication (including refusal skills), advocacy for personal, family, and community health, and character development are direct outcomes of the Utah State Health Education Core Curriculum. In addition, instruction and practice in the use of Cardiopulmonary Resuscitation (CPR) and an automated External Defibrillator (AED) as outlined in national guidelines equips students with the skills needed to save a life. (See Appendix F)
Multiple assessment measures are used in health education. Two major types of assessment are selected response (multiple choice, matching, true and false) and constructed response (students are prompted to construct answers to a question or scenarios). Teachers utilize both types of assessment items shown in the following chart and are encouraged to emphasize constructed response assessment measures in evaluating students.
National Health Education Standards, Achieving Excellence. Second Edition. (American Cancer Society 2007) 94.
Organization of the Health Education Core (See Appendix A- Developing State Standards) The Utah State Health Education Core Curriculum is designed to help teachers organize and deliver instruction. Elements of the Core include the following:
Intended Learning Outcomes for Secondary Health Education
The primary goal of health education is to develop health-literate individuals who have the ability to obtain, interpret, understand, and apply basic health information to assure positive health practices over the course of a lifetime.
The Intended Learning Outcomes reflect the skills, attitudes, standards, and behaviors students should learn as a result of instruction in health education. They represent an essential part of the Utah Health Education Core Curriculum and provide teachers with standards for evaluation of student learning.
By the end of secondary health education instruction, students will be able to:
http://www.uen.org - in partnership with Utah State Board of Education (USBE) and Utah System of Higher Education (USHE). Send questions or comments to USBE Specialist - Jodi Kaufman and see the Health Education website. For general questions about Utah's Core Standards contact the Director - DIANA SUDDRETH .