Anne Arundel County Public Schools

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AACPS Health & Wellness

Health Education

Health Education - yellow sunHealth Education is one of the eight interactive components of a coordinated school health program. Health Education is aligned with the approved Maryland State Curriculum and the National Health Standards. Schools by themselves cannot and should not be expected to solve the nation’s most serious health and social problems. Schools do provide a critical facility in which students are provided a comprehensive program taught by certified health educators.

Health Education courses in Anne Arundel County are focused on building health literate students.  Health Literacy refers to the ability to obtain, interpret, and understand basic health information and services. These courses prepare students to become health literate 21st Century learners as responsible members of society; self-directed learners, effective communicators, critical thinkers and problem solvers.

The goal of Health Education at AACPS:

  • prepares students to meet the challenges of healthy living
  • focuses on the whole person
  • requires collaboration of home, school, and community
  • provides knowledge and skills to enable individuals to make responsible and informed decisions and adapt and maintain healthy behaviors
  • prepares students to obtain, interpret, and understand basic health information and services
  • prepares students to meet the challenge of healthy living
  • focuses on all aspects of health and well-being—physical, mental, emotional, and social

High School

High School Health Education offers a one semester course for required graduation ½ credit, “Health Competencies for the 21st Century”.  In this course, students are prepared with the skills to identify the impact of family, peers, culture, media and technology on health behaviors and teach students to access valid health information. Through these skills students acquire the functional knowledge about the core health concepts. Core health concepts include: mental and emotional health, alcohol, tobacco and other drugs, personal and consumer health, family life and human sexuality, safety and injury prevention, nutrition and fitness and disease prevention and control.  Health skills include analyzing influences, accessing information, communicating effectively, self-management, decision making, goal setting and the skills to live and be an advocate for a healthy lifestyle.  A county –wide assessment is given at the end of the course, “Health Competencies for the 21st Century”

The unit dealing with Family Life and Human Sexuality is an approved health education curriculum for Anne Arundel County that is abstinence based.  This promotes abstinence as the behavior of choice for young adults.  However, information on contraception and sexually transmitted infections is presented as consequences of engaging in sexual risk taking behaviors. Due to the sensitive nature of this instruction, the Maryland State Regulation (COMAR 13 A.04.18.03.) states that parents or guardians may choose that their child NOT PARTICIPATE in the lessons that deal with contraception and sexually transmitted infections. Any student who does not participate in this instruction will be provided with independent alternative activities related to other health education topics.

All materials of instruction are reviewed by a county-level committee Health Education Review and Evaluation committee comprised of educators, parent representatives, and health professionals. Materials are approved based on the established criteria that meet the curriculum objectives.  Any materials dealing with Family Life and Human Sexuality units must be reviewed and evaluated by a Family Life and Human Sexuality Advisory Committee.  This committee submits their recommendations to the Board of Education and are kept at  the Review and Evaluation Center for 60 days. If no specific challenges have been raised after the allotted time, Family Life and Human Sexuality materials will be approved and available for purchase.

Three additional Health Education electives are offered to high school students, Drug Education, Human Sexuality, and Introduction to Health Professions.

Drug Education


  • Examines the issues related to use, misuse and abuse of tobacco, alcohol and other drugs.  Students will take an in-depth look at specific substances of abuse and explore methods of prevention, intervention and treatment for addiction.


  • An emphasis on the skills to identify the impact of family, peers, culture, media and technology on drug-abuse behaviors; to know how to access valid drug prevention information, use interpersonal communication, decision –making, goal setting, and advocacy skills; and to enact personal health enhancing practices.


Human Sexuality


  • An advanced level course with an emphasis on promoting life enhancing health behaviors relating to one’s sexuality


  • Content focus is on sexuality, decision making, relationships, protecting one’s own health, human reproduction, and social issues.


Introduction to Health Professions


  • Students are introduced to professional health careers, medical terminology, and technology.


  • Education and certification required for professional health careers are explored.


  • Guest speakers provide work-based learning experiences


Middle School

A Physical Education/Health Class is offered for one marking period of Physical Education in grades six, seven and eight, as part of the state mandated Comprehensive Health Education Program. This course is based on the National Health Education Standards and the Maryland State Curriculum for Health Education. The student outcomes are developmentally appropriate and include what students should know and be able to do in the following areas: Mental and Emotional Health; Alcohol, Tobacco and Other Drugs; Personal and Consumer Health; Family Life and Human Sexuality; Safety and Injury Prevention; Nutrition and Fitness; and Disease Prevention and Control. The 21st Century Competencies of decision making, goal setting, accessing information and communication skills are imbedded throughout all of the units of study at each grade level. Emphasis is placed on the ability to access school, home and community health resources.

Grade 6:

This course is designed to provide students the content and skills necessary to make healthier decisions as they navigate through the many physical, social, and emotional changes that occur during adolescence. This includes:

  • Analyzing factors that influence decisions and practice refusal skills for situations involving tobacco use.

  • Exploring ways to reduce personal risk for injury and acquire skills to assist others in need of first aid.

  • Students will be given the opportunity to understand the changes during puberty including the development of male and female reproductive systems as well as the social and emotional changes that occur.

  • Learning the role of the immune system in combating disease and describe methods of transmission and prevention for communicable disease including HIV/AIDS.

Grade 7:

Students in grade 7 explore the decision making process and importance of setting goals for building and maintaining physical, mental, emotional, and social health. This includes:

  • Examination of the influence of peer groups and developing healthy responses to harassing and intimidating behaviors including cyber­bullying.

  • Learning the relationship between food intake, physical activity and weight management while analyzing the relationship between body image, obesity and eating disorder.

  • Recognizing the importance of early detection, intervention and treatment for these diseases.

  • Understanding the effects and impact of alcohol abuse on the individual, family, and society and apply refusal and decision-making skills to alcohol related situations.

  • Reviewing the changes that occur during adolescent sexual development and identify abstinence from sexual activity as the healthiest lifestyle choice. They will understand the importance of effective communication with trusted adults regarding accurate sexual health information.

  • Topics also include risk factors and health behaviors to reduce the risk for non-communicable diseases such as cancer, cardiovascular disease and sun exposure related disease.

Grade 8:

This course is designed to provide students in grade 8 the opportunity to apply the decision making and goal setting skills to one’s health, wellness/personal well-being. This includes:

  • Analyzing the consequences of drug use/abuse and apply refusal and decision-making skills to situations involving illegal drug use and prescription medications.

  • Identifying types of harassment including sexual harassment and inappropriate use of technology and evaluate ways to avoid threatening situations.

  • Learning sources of stress and their effects on health as well as strategies to manage stress will be evaluated.

  • Recognizing depression and suicide as effects of unmanaged distress and develop effective coping skills and responses to suicide threats.

  • Analyzing the components of healthy relationships and generate guidelines for healthy dating relationships, learning the influences and consequences of adolescent sexual activity and how to apply communication skills to support abstinence.

  • This course also examines risk factors and behaviors that influence contraction and transmission of sexually transmitted diseases including HIV/AIDS, and presents the evidence that abstinence from sexual activity is the safest and healthiest choice to prevent sexually transmitted infections.

*Note: The family life and human sexuality unit, and HIV/AIDS prevention education were developed in accordance with the standards and procedures established in Maryland State Regulation 13A.14.01.02. Students may be excused from these units of the program upon a written request from their parent or guardian. Appropriate alternate instruction will be provided.

Elementary School

Health Lessons are integrated throughout the elementary school curriculum.

Affording students with resources to make healthy choices is vital to their development. The Healthy Body Lessons were created as an initiative to provide students with information on how to make healthy decisions. Each lesson incorporates Maryland State Curriculum standards in both Reading and Health Education.  These lessons are taught in the third and fourth grade. Additional lessons on nutrition and fitness are addressed in the third quarter of the science curriculum. New lessons are being developed for 5th grade through Reading/Language Arts and Health Education.

NOTE:  Elementary School counselors and nurses support many health education objectives Pre K-5.