In the 2002-2003 school year, the Office of Student Services and Health Promotion at the West Virginia Department of Education planned and implemented its first ever statewide assessment of health education. A team of health educators from across WV planned and implemented this assessment. Assessment items were taken from the State Collaborative on Assessment and Student Standards Health Education Assessment Project (SCASS-HEAP). Health education content areas and items were selected based on the extent to which they aligned with the WV Health Education Content Standards and Objectives ( CSOs ). All grades included items on the health education content areas of nutrition, physical activity, growth and development, alcohol and other drugs and tobacco. Grades 6 included items on injury prevention and the 8 th grade and high school versions included questions on mental health. Seven additional items, taken from the beginning of the Youth Risk Behavior Survey, were also used. These items asked for information on students' age, sex, grade, race, description of grades in school, and height and weight.
A total of 51 counties and 242 schools were recruited to participate (county response rate= 93%; school response rate= 53%) and over 17,000 sixth, eighth and high school students completed the HEAP assessment in the spring of '03. Mean scores and percent correct for an overall score and for each content area and question were calculated. The criterion of 80% correct was established as the standard to be achieved. Percents over 80 were labeled as “exceed the standard”; those in the 70's were labeled as “almost met the standard”; and percents under 70% were labeled as “standard not met.”
Injury prevention emerged as an area of strength for 6 th graders. Conversely, sixth graders had their lowest scores in growth and development. Eighth graders almost met the standard on physical activity; their lowest scores were on the alcohol and other drugs questions. High school students almost met the standard on the nutrition questions and they scored the lowest on the mental health questions.
Comparisons of HEAP scores based on gender showed significant differences. Mean HEAP scores (overall and subscores ) for female students were higher than scores for male students. The gender differences on HEAP Scores were maintained when the analysis was conducted at the three grade levels.
An in-depth look at the questions across all content areas and grade levels, for which students failed to meet the standard, revealed deficiencies in the following areas:
identifying the short and long term consequences of tobacco and drugs
identifying risks associated with sexual activity (8 th grade)
analyzing the effectiveness of various birth control methods for both pregnancy prevention and protection against STDs (high school)
identifying accurate sources of health information
understanding a food label
linking a particular physical activity to a specific fitness outcome
identifying recommended physical activity goals
identifying effective ways to deal with stress