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RULE §115.27Grades 7-8, Adopted 2020

(a) Introduction.

  (1) The goal of health education is to provide instruction that allows youth to develop and sustain health-promoting behaviors throughout their lives. The understanding and application of these standards will allow students the ability to gather, interpret, and understand health information; achieve health literacy; and adapt to the ever-evolving science of health. The health education knowledge and skills should be presented to students in a positive manner to support the development of a healthy self-concept and responsible decision making. The standards will help students reinforce, foster, and apply positive character traits.

  (2) There are essential skills that repeat throughout the six strands and embody the interconnection of health literacy. These skills include decision making, problem solving, goal setting, maintaining healthy relationships with self and others, seeking help and support, and recognizing various influences on health such as social, environmental, media, and genetic. These skills, developed early on and reinforced throughout a student's education, will foster mastery of health concepts. Health class educators are encouraged to partner with school counselors where available to schedule time for them to deliver classroom guidance lessons to help teach these essential competencies. In addition, areas in the standards related to abuse, neglect, violence, loss, grief, trauma, and suicide may directly affect some students in the classroom. Should the educator recognize signs of discomfort with instruction in these areas, students should be referred to the appropriate resource, identified ahead of such instruction, for additional help and support.

  (3) Students gain an understanding of health information and skills through six strands: physical health and hygiene; mental health and wellness; healthy eating and physical activity; injury and violence prevention and safety; alcohol, tobacco, and other drugs; and reproductive and sexual health.

    (A) Physical health and hygiene education helps to prepare students for improved lifelong health outcomes. Learning about body systems lays the foundation for personal health and hygiene. Health literacy and preventative behaviors empower students to make informed choices to support self, family, and community.

    (B) The mental health and wellness strand recognizes that the knowledge and skills necessary to manage emotions, reactions, and relationships are essential to reaching one's full potential. Students gain knowledge about social and emotional health, including developing a healthy self-concept, understanding risk and protective factors, and identifying and managing mental health and wellness concerns. In the early grades, students develop fluency around emotions and self-regulation and understand the relationship between feelings, thoughts, and behavior. In subsequent grades, students learn and practice appropriate ways to solve interpersonal conflicts, work to develop a positive self-image, and develop healthy self-management skills.

    (C) The healthy eating and physical activity strand addresses the importance of nutrition and physical activity to support a healthy lifestyle. Students apply critical-thinking and decision-making skills to make positive health choices. Students learn about essential nutrients, food groups, portion control, government nutritional recommendations, and the health benefits of being physically active. Students evaluate the connection between physical activity and nutrition and the prevention of chronic diseases.

    (D) By focusing on injury and violence prevention and safety, the standards promote student well-being and awareness of dangerous situations. Supporting student well-being and providing instruction in digital citizenship, bullying prevention, first aid, and identification of safe and unsafe situations creates empowered and educated students who are able to make decisions that keep themselves and others safe. Beginning in Kindergarten and continuing through high school, students gain knowledge and skills to support safety and wellness at school, at home, online, and in the community.

    (E) The standards under the alcohol, tobacco, and other drugs strand focus on a number of protective factors that develop empowered students who are able to make better-informed decisions, including understanding the impact of substance use on physical, mental, and social health. Through this strand, students learn key concepts about alcohol, tobacco, and other drugs, including the use, misuse, and physiological effects; short- and long-term impacts on health; treatment; risk and protective factors; and prevention. These concepts introduce healthy alternatives and ways for students to ask for and seek out help from parents and other trusted adults.

    (F) Beginning in Grade 4, students learn about changes associated with adolescent development in the reproductive and sexual health strand. In subsequent grade levels, students identify the purpose of these changes and their role in fertilization and reproduction. Students learn the characteristics of healthy and unhealthy relationships and how to use communication and refusal skills to set personal boundaries in dating/romantic relationships. Students also identify how to respond to sexual harassment and abuse.

  (4) An integral part of health education involves educators being aware of state laws relevant to human sexuality instruction. These laws include affirming:

    (A) a local school district's control over the provision of human sexuality instruction to ensure that local community values are reflected in that instruction (Texas Education Code (TEC), §28.004(e)-(h));

    (B) the right of a parent or legal guardian to be informed of the provision of human sexuality instruction to their child and review the content of that instruction (TEC, §28.004(i)-(j));

    (C) the right of a parent or legal guardian to remove their child from any portion of human sexuality instruction without penalty to the child (TEC, §28.004(i));

    (D) the centrality of abstinence education in any human sexuality curriculum (TEC, §28.004(e)); and

    (E) the right of a parent or legal guardian to be informed of and consent to an abortion performed on their pregnant child (with judicially authorized or medical emergency exceptions) (Texas Family Code, Chapter 33).

  (5) Educators also should be aware of and abide by the statutory prohibition on taxpayer resource transactions between state governmental entities, including public schools, and abortion providers or an affiliate of an abortion provider (Texas Government Code, Chapter 2272).

  (6) Statements containing the word "including" reference content that must be mastered, while those containing the phrase "such as" are intended as possible illustrative examples.

  (7) Students should first seek guidance in the area of health from a parent or legal guardian.

(b) Knowledge and skills.

  (1) Physical health and hygiene--body systems. The student examines the structures, functions, and relationships of body systems and their relevance to personal health. The student is expected to describe the relationships among the body systems.

  (2) Physical health and hygiene--personal health and hygiene. The student understands health literacy, preventative health behaviors, and how to access and evaluate health care information to make informed decisions. The student is expected to:

    (A) list specific resources or facilities where members of the community can obtain medical care;

    (B) explain ways to use health information to help self and others, including seizure awareness, diabetes education, and response plans such as first aid or cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR);

    (C) identify barriers related to solving health problems and ways to overcome barriers; and

    (D) explain the course, signs, symptoms, and treatments of vector-borne illnesses such as Lyme disease or West Nile Virus.

  (3) Mental health and wellness--social and emotional health. The student identifies and applies strategies to develop socio-emotional health, self-regulation, and healthy relationships. The student is expected to:

    (A) identify and analyze different emotions and causal thoughts in self;

    (B) analyze the relationship between thoughts, feelings, and behaviors and demonstrate healthy techniques for managing reactions in times of emotional stress;

    (C) evaluate the importance of social groups and peer influences and explain how they can affect individual mental health and wellness;

    (D) demonstrate perspective-taking and communication skills for building and maintaining healthy relationships and determining when and how to end unhealthy relationships;

    (E) analyze similarities and differences between one's own and others' perspectives; and


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