Overview | Testimonies | Research | Additional Resources | About the Project


New research shows that the health and well-being of California’s students have a direct impact on dropout rates, attendance, academic performance and school revenues. The stakes are high, and current health indicators raise serious concerns. Student health is critical to our ability to reach achievement goals set by the state—and to advance California’s economic and cultural prosperity. Improving student health is a collective responsibility and opportunity.

Californians can make a difference.

Ensuring all students have healthy basics—safe schools, physical activity, access to care, nutritious food and meaningful relationships—is everyone’s business. Policymakers, educators, health and social service providers, community agencies, parents and students must all play a role. Healthy solutions are already boosting achievement in urban, suburban and rural communities throughout California.


Presentation to Joint Assembly Education and Health Committees—May 18, 2011
Download [ 2.9 mb, pdf ]

The California Assembly Education and Health Committees, chaired by Assembly Member Julia Brownley and Assembly Member Bill Monning respectively, held their first joint hearing on May 18, 2011. This hearing was convened to provide legislators critical information on research findings and policy recommendations from the Healthy Students Research Project, sponsored by The California Endowment, The James Irvine Foundation, and The William and Flora Hewlett Foundation. Researchers from West Ed and UCSF conducted over three years of research on the linkages between student health and well-being and academic achievement.


Student Health is Vital to Academic Results
Review a summary of the new research linking student health, well-being, and academic success, including three broad approaches and eight initial recommendations for adding health and well-being to the formula for student achievement and prosperity in California.
Download [ 3.6 mb, pdf ]

Healthy Steps Toward Student Achievement: Research-based Recommendations for Policy and Practice
Read the full report reviewing research that documents the critical link between student health and well-being—both physical and socio-emotional—and academic success for California students. It also outlines policy actions that can put the research into practice. The recommended strategies presented in this paper are intended to serve as a catalyst for policy discussions. This paper builds upon the original framing paper.
Download [ 2.3 mb, pdf ]

The Critical Connection between Student Health and Academic Achievement: How Schools and Policymakers Can Achieve a Positive Impact
Explore the original framing paper covering the connection between student health and academic achievement. The framing paper was used to generate discussion among education and health leaders, and to fuel development of policy and program recommendations. Its content has evolved and is now largely reflected in the preceding report.
Download [ 2.2 mb, pdf ]

The following seven key briefs are the research foundation for the preceding overview, synthesis, and framing papers.

The Relationship of Academic Achievement and School Well-being
Download [ 600 kb, pdf ]

The Achievement Gap and School Well-being
Download [ 634 kb, pdf ]

Addressing Root Causes of the Achievement Gap for Latino Youth
Download [ 696 kb, pdf ]

Bullying and Violence as Barriers to Academic Achievement
Download [ 563 kb, pdf ]

Youth Violence, Posttraumatic Stress Symptoms and Learning
Download [ 584 kb, pdf ]

Personalization and Caring Relationships with Adults in Urban High Schools: Is There a Relationship with Academic Achievement?
Download [ 515 kb, pdf ]

Supporting Student Health and Academic Achievement through Innovative Program and Funding Models
Download [ 671 kb, pdf ]

Additional Resources

Physical Education Research for Kids (PERK): A study for the California Task Force on Youth and Workplace Wellness
Download [ 1.8 mb, pdf ]

Physical Activity and Physical Education in California Schools: A survey of district/county office of education perceptions and practices
Download [ 401 kb, pdf ]

Physical Education Matters
Download [ 173 kb, pdf ]

Active Education: Physical Education, Physical Activity and Academic Performance
Download [ 532 kb, pdf ]

Lunch Briefing Series: PowerPoint Presentation of Elizabeth Gaines, Director of Policy, Forum for Youth Investment, “A California Children’s Cabinet: The Time Has Come”
Download [ 1.4 mb, pdf ]

The Role of School Climate in Academic Success and High School Graduation
Download [ 2.6 mb, pdf ]

Why School Meals Matter: Maximizing Opportunities to Support Student Health and Academic Achievement
Download [ 1.3 mb, pdf ]

Chronic Absence: School, Health and Well-being
Download [ 674 kb, pdf ]

Why Summer Matters
Download [ 270 kb, pdf ]

Local School Wellness Policies: Healthy Schools Mean Healthy Kids, Families and Communities
Download [ 5.0 mb, pdf ]

Assembly Floor Statement on SCR 18 (Liu) by Assemblyman Pan in support of the California Healthy Kids Survey
Download [ 3.0 mb, mp3 ]

About The Project

The California Health Students Research Project is devoted to understanding and addressing issues of health and well-being that affect student achievement. By researching health and education issues in the state, the project provides evidence-based policy and practice recommendations to foster the school culture, environment, supports and services needed to give all youth the opportunity to be successful learners.

The project was directed by Gregory Austin, Ph.D. of WestEd and Claire Brindis, Dr. P.H. of the Philip R. Lee Institute for Health Policy Studies, University of California San Francisco. It was funded by The James Irvine Foundation, The California Endowment and The William and Flora Hewlett Foundation, and guided by advisors in California’s health and education sectors.