Better Health, Better Learning Report - July 2017 SCORE Better Health Better Learning Report_July 20 - Page 2

“There is an undeniable connection between education and health. That’s why now, more than ever, we need a public education system producing more high school graduates who are better prepared for a career or college, and life.” – Former US Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist, MD, 2011 Across Tennessee, students have made important academic achievement gains compared to their peers nationally, outpacing averages on the Nation’s Report Card in math, science, and eighth-grade reading since 2011. 1 The state has set more rigorous academic standards for students, and thanks to the work of teachers, school and district leaders, and other educators—along with communities of support—more students are gaining the skills and knowledge they will need to prepare for success in college and their careers. Still, these gains have not benefited all students or narrowed many of the achievement gaps affecting students from low-income backgrounds or students of color. These gaps continue to challenge Tennessee’s efforts to remain the fastest-improving state for academic achievement and to reach the goal of ensuring all students are prepared for success beyond high school. Even as more students are achieving at higher levels in Tennessee’s public schools, too many face physical, mental, and emotional well-being challenges. On average, young Tennesseans are in poorer health and engage in behaviors such as smoking at higher rates than their peers in other states. In Tennessee, and nationally, stark gaps also exist in youth access to health services. For example, research by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation shows that students in a quarter of the nation’s public schools do not have access to a school nurse. 2 Historically underserved students, in particular, disproportionately experience inadequate access to quality health care and nutrition, which leads to disparate rates of certain health conditions for these populations. 3 1