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Archived Information

Health Curriculum Framework
Building Resilience Through Comprehensive Health

January 1996


Appendix A: Getting Started

Implementing the Massachusetts Comprehensive Health Curriculum Framework requires coordinated effort over a period of time. Each district or school needs to develop its own strategy for mapping out "do-able" actions, involving families and communities in a multi-year plan that is integrated with other education reform and school improvement efforts.

Using the Framework as a guide, teachers and administrators must make decisions about health curriculum, instruction, and assessment at the local level. Through a self-study process, like that outlined in Chapter Four of Charting the Course: The Common Chapters of the Massachusetts Curriculum Frameworks, a school or district can assess its current programs, consider local needs, and address a number of key curricular issues at the local level. Among the questions teachers, administrators, and family and community members frequently ask are:

  • Which aspects of comprehensive health education -- including health, family and consumer sciences, and physical education -- are currently being taught in the school or district? What does the curriculum cover at the elementary, middle, and high school levels? Which areas need strengthening?
  • Do teachers of health, physical education, and family and consumer sciences collaborate in planning and integrating their disciplines?
  • Does each and every student in the school or district study comprehensive health education from preschool throughout the high school? What skills do they learn? Can high school students interested in health careers find adequate preparation in their school or district?
  • Does health-related instruction and assessment at every grade level require that students demonstrate their ability to:
    • Obtain, understand, and think critically about health information and services;
    • Develop a repertoire of skills in movement and life management skills and understand their importance to lifelong health;
    • Integrate and apply essential knowledge and skills with respect to their own health-related goals, decisions and behaviors;
    • Apply health-related knowledge and skills in ways that promote the health of their friends, families, and communities?
  • Do teachers of health, family and consumer sciences, and physical education use a variety of strategies, as outlined in Chapter Two of Charting the Course: The Common Chapters of the Massachusetts Curriculum Frameworks, to meet the needs of students' diverse learning styles?
  • Is adequate time, funding, and space allocated for comprehensive health education?
  • Is comprehensive health education closely coordinated with school guidance counseling and psychological services? With school health services? With school food and nutrition services?
  • Does the comprehensive health program actively involve parents and other family members?
  • In what ways does health-related education, as well as other aspects of the school health program, interface with community agencies and organizations? Which of these relationships need to be formalized?
  • Do all adults in the school participate in personal as well as school-wide health promotion?
  • How do teachers use health topics to help students understand aspects of culture and history, as well as similarities and differences among people?
  • Do PreK-12 teachers of health, physical education, and family and consumer sciences in the district meet regularly to discuss curriculum, instruction, and assessment issues? Do they collaborate in planning and team-teaching with other members of the faculty?
  • Have teachers agreed upon and written guidelines for assessment of student learning? Have they shared these with students and families?
  • What is the school or district plan for helping teachers, administrators, and family members understand the Comprehensive Health Education Framework and define their role in its implementation?
  • Does the school or district provide ongoing professional development and staff training for those who teach comprehensive health education?
  • How does the school or district document its comprehensive health curriculum and share students' accomplishments with families and the community?

One Step at a Time: A Professional Development Plan for Using the Comprehensive Health Framework

There are many ways to go about developing or revising a comprehensive health curriculum; there is no "one right way" for all districts to follow. The Comprehensive Health Framework brings together the interrelated disciplines of health education, physical education, and family and consumer sciences, but it is not organized around these disciplines, nor around the traditional health content areas. This Framework is organized around its core concept, Building Resilience, and three strands: Health Literacy, Healthy Self-Management, and Health Promotion and Advocacy. It is intended to challenge school personnel to reexamine the importance of comprehensive health education in the context of a comprehensive school health program, and to expand their understanding of what comprehensive health education is all about. It is founded on the belief that comprehensive health education is critically important to the development of individuals who are lifelong learners, healthy citizens, productive workers, and constructive contributors to their communities.

The following suggestions outline some steps for examining the school's role in building resilience through a comprehensive health curriculum. These are intended only as suggestions. The Resource section lists a number of print materials and other organizational resources that can be of assistance to schools in this planning and implementation process. Members of the Framework Committee (page iii) and the Health Protection Grant Mentors can also help in getting started.

The First Step: Finding Connections Between What You Already Do and the Comprehensive Health Framework

  • Do an inventory of effective lessons, units, and projects already in place.Include health-related content that is taught within the disciplines of family and consumer sciences, physical education, and health, as well as curricular contributions of others such as guidance counselors and school nurses.
  • Consider how these existing efforts fit with the Framework's three Strands and nine Learning Standards.
  • Choose one Strand, or perhaps one Learning Standard, that parallels your current teaching emphasis. Create a teaching portfolio that documents lessons, assessments, and student work reflecting that Strand. The Guiding Principles in the Comprehensive Health Framework, as well as Chapter Two of Charting the Course: the Common Chapters of the Massachusetts Curriculum Frameworks will help provide a broad educational context for the Strand you have selected.
  • Share your portfolio with teachers (physical education, family and consumer sciences, and health, as well as other disciplines), and other school staff (including guidance and adjustment counselors, school nurses, coaches, administrators). Start to build a school or departmental portfolio that reflects the Framework.

The Second Step: Looking for the Challenges in the Framework

  • Choose a Strand or Learning Standard that challenges you. Work with colleagues to develop lessons, try them with students, and document your progress to add to your portfolio.
  • Investigate how other teachers present material for this Strand or Learning Standard, and think about the influence of school schedules and teaching assignments on your ability to help students meet this standard. Visit classes in your own or another district, look for conferences or courses which will help you learn more about this area, use the Resource Section of the Comprehensive Health Framework. Consult Chapter Three of Charting the Course: the Common Chapters of the Massachusetts Curriculum Frameworks for ideas on creative use of time, space, and school resources.
  • Develop a presentation on some aspect of this Framework to share with colleagues in your school or district.

The Third Step: Building a District Curriculum Based on the Framework

  • Using this Framework and the portfolios of lessons and student work developed by teachers in the district, collaborate on a PreK-12 comprehensive health curriculum guide for the district.
  • Use the Comprehensive Health and other Frameworks to develop interdisciplinary curriculum units. Look for common themes and approaches among health, family and consumer sciences, and physical education, as well as ideas that are shared with other disciplines. Incorporate the expertise of school staff who work with other components of the school health program (school nurse, psychologist, guidance counselor, adjustment counselor, social worker, food service director, etc.). Work with a colleague to plan and teach material which challenges you and your students as learners; document the work to add to your portfolio.
  • Share your curriculum with families, and your experiences as a team of curriculum developers with teachers in other districts.

Appendix B:

Improving Comprehensive Health Education: What Partners Can Do

Teachers of Health, Family and Consumer Sciences, and Physical Education

  • Teach the essential knowledge and skills of Health Literacy, Healthy Self-Management, and Health Promotion and Advocacy
  • Inspire students to develop responsible health attitudes and behaviors
  • Collaborate with other teachers, community agencies and organizations, businesses and industry, and families to promote students' health learning and resilience
  • Document and disseminate successful projects

Health coordinators

  • Provide direction and resources to teachers, and assure that the district curriculum provides comprehensive health education to each and every student
  • Work with all teachers and administrators to ensure PreK-12 coordination of comprehensive health curriculum

Teachers of other disciplines

  • Integrate comprehensive health concepts and physical activity into their teaching
  • Plan and conduct interdisciplinary projects with teachers of health, physical education, and/or family and consumer sciences

Superintendents, Principals, School Committee Members, and School Advisory Committees

  • Provide leadership to develop a philosophy and healthful school environment in which health learning and health promotion are valued
  • Make decisions about staffing, budgets, schedules, and programs to support comprehensive health education as part of a comprehensive school health program

School psychologists, guidance counselors, adjustment counselors, nurses, health services directors, food services directors, and other staff

  • Collaborate with teachers and administrators, both in and out of the classroom, to promote health and learning, and build student resilience

Family members

  • Advocate for planned, sequential comprehensive health programs such as that outlined in the Framework
  • Contribute their knowledge, skills, and expertise in the classroom
  • Support and enrich students' health learning in the context of family beliefs, heritage, and culture
  • Encourage students' physical activity and other healthful behavior outside of school

Higher education faculty

  • Provide professional development and pre-service training
  • Serve elementary and secondary school educators by fostering informal ongoing networks of teacher/researchers
  • Conduct and publish research on comprehensive health education, its importance to academic achievement and to individual and community health, and in creating effective schools

Professional associations

  • Provide a meeting ground for comprehensive health education advocates -- parents, teachers, professors, providers -- by sponsoring conferences and publications
  • Develop and disseminate guidelines for comprehensive health curricula, and for school health programs


  • Advocate for comprehensive health education and school health programs that contribute to developing a healthy and capable workforce
  • Provide financial support for comprehensive health education
  • Offer internship opportunities that help students apply health learning in the workplace and explore health careers

Private voluntary health organizations such as the American Cancer Society, American Heart Association, American Lung Association, etc.

  • Provide curricular materials in specific health content areas
  • Provide advocacy and financial support for planning and implementation of comprehensive health education
  • Provide teacher training in comprehensive health areas

Community organizations

  • Collaborate with comprehensive health teachers and other faculty to expand health-related learning and activities
  • Collaborate with and support families in enriching health-related learning
  • Offer opportunities to students for community service learning

State agencies such as the Department of Elementary and Secondary Education and Department of Public Health

  • Encourage study groups, institutes, school alliances, and networks to disseminate ideas about implementing the Comprehensive Health Framework
  • Offer programs to support innovative teaching and connections between schools, health agencies and organizations, and community groups
  • Provide links to national initiatives in health education, physical education, and family and consumer sciences, and with respect to comprehensive school health programs
  • Offer technical assistance to school districts in designing comprehensive health curricula and programs

Last Updated: January 1, 1996
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