The impact of the healthy school program on reading, mathematics, and science achievement of 5th grade students: a causal-comparative inquiry
The obesity rate for children has become a national epidemic in America, resulting in the need to incorporate physical fitness and nutrition into the curriculum in an effort to improve health and academic achievement. The Healthy Schools Program (HSP) is an initiative that assists schools in establishing and sustaining healthy environments, which can be instrumental in making students perform better in school. Therefore, the purpose of the study was to examine the impact of the HSP on academic achievement.
The study employed a causal-comparative design and took place in an urban school district in south Texas. The characteristic-present group (N = 25) had participated in the HSP for one year. The comparison group (N = 26) had not participated in the HSP. The outcome measures were the State of Texas Assessments of Academic Readiness (STAAR) reading, mathematics, and science achievement scores. The 5th grade was chosen because the three subject matters are tested at this grade level. The researcher had hypothesized that the HSP group would outperform the non-HSP group on the basis of the outcome measures. However, the results did not support the hypothesis. Power analysis and effect sizes showed that the lack of statistical significance could have not been related to the small sample sizes.
Although the study did not find that participation in the HSP impacted academic achievement, future research may suggest that establishing healthy lifestyle changes, starting at the elementary level, can have a positive impact on the whole child. If the study is going to be replicated by conducting another causal-comparative investigation, careful attention must be given to identifying the characteristic-present and comparison groups. In the current study, although the comparison group’s curriculum did not include HSP, it had enjoyed other factors, unknown to the researcher at the time of selecting the schools, which could have impacted the outcome measures. A comparison group must be selected from a population which is similar to the character-present group except for the variable(s)/characteristic(s) that are being investigated.