Tennessee Department Of Education Secures Grant To Improve Student Academic Achievement And Health

Monday, July 9, 2018

State Education Commissioner Candice McQueen announced on Monday that Tennessee was awarded over $4.3 million in grant funding to support the implementation and evaluation of evidence-based strategies and activities to prevent childhood obesity, reduce the risk of children and adolescents developing chronic disease in adulthood, and help manage chronic health conditions prevalent in Tennessee students. In addition to this work, Tennessee was the only state to receive an additional grant to fund the National Professional Development and Partnership for School Health (NPDPSH) project. The funds, awarded by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, will also support professional development and training to help educators improve student health and academic achievement.

“We know that a student’s health and academic performance are closely linked, so we are excited to provide more of our students the opportunity to continue to grow and learn while benefitting their physical health,” said Commissioner McQueen. “These grants will allow us to provide resources to our districts and schools to further the well-being of all Tennessee children.”

Research shows that children who eat more nutritious meals and are more physically active perform better in the classroom. However, Tennessee students are struggling in the battle to modify behaviors, such as poor eating habits and lack of exercise, which contribute to development of chronic diseases later in life. In Tennessee, more than 39 percent of school-aged children are overweight or obese and overall Tennessee currently has the highest childhood obesity rate in the nation. 

Through efforts supported by this new grant, the department will be able to help provide students education on proper nutrition, physical activity, and management of chronic health conditions, so students can establish healthy behaviors that could reduce the rate of overweight and obesity, reduce the risk for future chronic diseases, and improve academic performance in schools. The efforts supported by the grants will focus on the three strategies:

1.   Infrastructure development: the department will develop strategies and best practices to increase awareness and promote evidence-based policies on school-based health education, physical education/physical activity, healthy eating, and management of chronic health conditions.

2.   Professional development and training: the department will design professional development and training opportunities on establishing systems for the management and support of students with chronic health conditions.

3.   Technical assistance: through a partnership with the department of health, the department will provide statewide and district technical assistance through professional development and training, on-site visits, online learning, and additional methods as needed.

Tennessee is one of 17 states that secured grants to implement these strategies using a comprehensive, statewide approach over the next five years. While some activities will be implemented statewide, the department has selected 10 districts with which to prioritize the work. The 10 priority districts are: Crockett County Schools, Lauderdale County Schools, Weakley County Schools, Maury County Schools, Wayne County Schools, Rutherford County Schools, Trousdale County Schools, Monroe County Schools, Grainger County schools, and Hawkins County Schools. These districts were selected for particular focus based on their high percentage of overweight or obese students, economically disadvantaged status, percentage of student’s with chronic health conditions, and access to physical activity programs.

In addition to this work, Tennessee was the only state to receive an additional grant to fund the National Professional Development and Partnership for School Health (NPDPSH) project. Through a coordinated effort, the NPDPSH will provide national professional development for Tennessee to improve the implementation of school health policies and practices and increase the percentage of individuals or teams who have been able to transfer school health skills into practice.

These new efforts will build on the work already started by the Tennessee Departments of Education and Health through the Active Students, Active Learners initiative, which began in August 2017. Together the departments are working to help bring tools and evidence to education decision makers that illustrate the significant impacts of physical activity on the whole student, particularly academic performance.  

For more information on the grant, contact Christine Rockwood, physical education/physical activity specialist at Christine.Rockwood@tn.gov. For media inquiries, contact Sara Gast, director of communications at (615) 532-6260 or Sara.Gast@tn.gov.

TVA Internships Foster The Next Generation Of Employees

The second year of TVA’s internship program recently came to a close, and several college students throughout the Valley can now count themselves as assets to TVA’s mission of service. “TVA has welcomed interns for decades, but prior to 2017, no official internship program existed. The interns were less aligned and not necessarily part of a larger group,” said Llisa Prater, program ... (click for more)

SMMHS German Exchange Students Arrive In Chattanooga Sunday

Signal Mountain Middle High School will welcome 20 German exchange students from Hamm, Chattanooga's sister city, on Sunday, when the students arrive at the Chattanooga airport.  The exchange students and their chaperones will be staying with Signal Mountain host families for three and a half weeks.  The principal from the school in Germany, Andrea Behm-Brachmann, will ... (click for more)

City Council Considering Possible Curbs On Steep Slope, Flood Plain Development

The City Council, which is considering possible curbs on steep slope and flood plain development, heard a presentation on the topic from the Regional Planning Agency staff on Tuesday. Councilman Darrin Ledford said a public hearing will come next. He said the council hears frequent criticism of development on steep hillsides and lowlands, "and I expect a great turnout for the ... (click for more)

Judge Denies New Trial For Unjolee Moore In 2010 Murder

Criminal Court Judge Don Poole has denied a new trial for a man convicted of a 2010 murder. Unjolee Moore, at a recent hearing, claimed that he made a confession after being beaten by a detective and held for over 13 hours while handcuffed behind his back. He a lso said he had ineffective assistance of counsel. His current lawyer, Daniel Murphy, said he was able to obtain ... (click for more)

Why I'm Voting Republican And So Should You

For much of my life, the commitment to the Democratic Party has puzzled me. I was raised to analyze both sides of issues and to make an intelligent decision based upon that information. The values of self-reliance, hard work, and individual liberty that I grew up with were the same American values that have made this country exceptional. As I have grown older, I have witnessed ... (click for more)

Roy Exum: UT’s Genius Stroke

If all goes as (very carefully) planned, the most dynamic president to be hired at the University of Tennessee since the legendary Andy Holt retired in 1970, will be ushered into office today by the university’s board of trustees. The selection of Randy Boyd to take over his ala mater is a genius stroke and certainly seems to solidify two of life’s greatest truths. The first ... (click for more)