In this era of education reform, National Health Education Standards are critical to the healthy development of children and youth. National Health Education Standards improve student learning across the nation by providing a foundation for curriculum development, instruction, and assessment of student performance. National Health Education Standards provide a guide for enhancing preparation and continuing education of teachers. The goal of National Health Education Standards is improved educational achievement for students and improved health in the United States. Standards in health education help students achieve the education goals set in America 2000: An Educational Strategy and the health goals in Healthy People 2000: National Health Promotion and Disease Prevention Objectives.
Health literacy is the capacity of individuals to obtain, interpret, and understand basic health information and services and the competence to use such information and services in ways that enhance health. This defines the desired outcome of the National Health Standards project and of quality health education programs wherever they exist. The National Health Education Standards were crafted by applying the characteristics of a well-educated, literate person within the overall context of health. Four characteristics were identified as being essential to health literacy. The health literate person is:
Growing Healthy meets or exceeds each of the seven standards set forth in the National Health Education Standards. To clearly demonstrate how the curriculum meets and exceeds these standards, the National Center for Health Education has composed an analysis of the new third edition (1996) Growing Healthy curriculum. Each grade level, assessed separately, identifies the standard, the performance indicator, where it is used within the curriculum, and its comprehensive health content area.