Comprehensive Health Education Instruction

Vision Statement

Comprehensive Health Education emphasizes lifelong positive health related attitudes and behaviors that promote self-reliance and self-regulation for all students while promoting health literacy. Health literate students have the knowledge, skills, and ability to maintain and enhance personal health and fitness, create and maintain safe environments, and manage personal and community resources. Health skills emphasized throughout the program include analyzing influences; accessing information; interpersonal communication; decision making; goal-setting; self-management; and advocacy for personal, family and community health.

Regulation and Standards

Read the State of Maryland regulation and the state and national standards for health  Comprehensive Health Education

Research and Rationale

The Montgomery County Public Schools (MCPS) Comprehensive Health Education (CHE) Curriculum Framework lays the foundation for engaging and meaningful instruction that allows all students to develop health literacy by graduation from high school. Health literate students are self-directed learners; critical thinkers and problem solvers; effective communicators; and responsible, productive citizens National Health Education Standards (NHES, 2007). The MCPS content standards, indicators, objectives, and clarifying examples in this framework were derived from a comparative analysis and combination of the NHES skills and the Maryland State Department of Education (MSDE) standards.


The MCPS CHE Curriculum Framework builds upon and extends comprehensive health education outcomes as outlined in the MCPS Elementary Curriculum 2.0, including thinking and academic success skills, critical thinking, and social emotional learning (SEL). The curriculum framework applies current comprehensive health education research and practices to Grades 6–12 and is consistent with the goals of the Common Core State Standards for English Language Arts and Mathematics and the Next Generation Science Standards. By incorporating SEL, problem-solving and higher academic standards, the MCPS CHE Curriculum Framework aligns with the MCPS Strategic Planning Framework, Buidling Our Future Together- Students, Staff, and Community.  

Standards-Based Curriculum  

The MCPS CHE Curriculum Framework is organized around the eight learning standards of the NHES, which identify knowledge and skills essential for secondary students to develop health literacy. The first NHES standard—Core Concepts, includes seven content topics that also align with MSDE content standards. These seven topics provide the major organizational structure of the framework. The topics are spread across the three middle school courses (three to five topics per year). These seven topics also serve as the unit structure for the high school course.

 Mental and Emotional Health (MEH)

 Alcohol, Tobacco, and Other Drugs (ATOD)

 Personal and Consumer Health (PCH)

 Family Life and Human Sexuality (FLHS)

 Safety and Injury Prevention (SIP)

 Nutrition and Fitness (NF)

 Disease Prevention and Control (DPC)

Standards two through eight of the NHES address health literacy skills. These skills were woven throughout the framework to provide a knowledge-based and practical-skill-based approach to curriculum and instruction.

 Analyzing Influences (INF)

 Accessing Information (AI)

 Interpersonal Communication (IC)

 Decision Making (DM)

 Goal Setting (GS)

 Self-management (SM)

 Personal, Family, and Community Health Advocacy (AV) 


Instructional Approach The CHE Curriculum Framework is designed to provide students opportunities to develop and apply the NHES skills-based standards to MCPS and MSDE content in a clear and cohesive progression across the secondary grades. This structure fosters teaching and learning that ensures students will refine and transfer their learning, develop the ability to think critically about health concepts and skills, and achieve lifelong health literacy.

Current research and practice included in the framework is an emphasis on critical thinking applied to health concepts. Embedding critical thinking skills within health education content increases the capacity for students to problem solve, collaborate, apply knowledge, and succeed in the 21st century (Kay, 2009). ―Rather than devote so much effort into teaching students what to think, perhaps we need to do more to teach them how to think‖ (Tsui, 2002).




The CHE Curriculum Framework promotes research-proven instructional practices, including:

-Content and skills are explicitly paired with the expressed goal of students thinking actively in the classroom (Case, 2005).

-Student engagement is promoted to make judgments, increase reasoning, and improve analyzing skills (Willingham, 2008).

-Instruction focused on transforming learning and away from rote learning of content (Tsui, 2002).

-Students’ thinking processes are improved by providing opportunities to analyze, assess, and reconstruct their thinking (Elder and Paul, 2008).

-Health literate citizens are best developed by building communication, collaboration, problem solving, and critical thinking skills (Trilling, 2010; Trilling, 2009). 



Self-regulated Learning


The CHE Curriculum Framework also reflects current theory and practice in its purposeful integration of SEL with thinking skills and health content to foster health literacy and self-reflection (Paul and Elder, 2012). As students navigate complex issues related to physical and mental health, learning social and emotional skills allows students to recognize and manage their emotions, solve problems effectively, and establish positive relationships with others (Zins and Elias, 2007). The CHE Curriculum Framework addresses five core competencies of SEL, which are consistent with and complement the NHES skills-based based standards and MCPS and MSDE content standards:

 Self-awareness

 Self-management

 Social awareness

 Relationship skills

 Responsible decision making