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Berlin, Ocean Pines News Worcester County Bayside Gazette Logo Berlin, Ocean Pines News Worcester County Bayside Gazette


Health Literacy on rise in county schools

Based on recent findings by University of Maryland’s Herschel S. Horowitz Center for Health Literacy (UM), there was a statistically significant increase in health literacy among students in Worcester County Public Schools who took part in the Integrated Health Literacy Program (IHLP) during the 2014-2015 school year.
The student’s overall health literacy – or the ability to obtain, process and understand basic information – improved.
In January of 2015, Atlantic General Hospital (AGH), Worcester County Public Schools (WCPS) and UM introduced students in grades two countywide – and in third, fourth, and fifth grade pilot classrooms – to the IHLP lessons.
Students were pre-tested on their baseline knowledge of health literacy related concepts. After the implementation of IHLP lessons into their science, social studies, reading language arts and math classes, students were then post-tested on the topics covered during those lessons and measurements of health literacy.
In the post-testing, the UM’s research found second grade students’ awareness of food labels increased from 55.5 percent at pre-test to 88 percent after receiving the curriculum.
Fifty-seven percent of second grade students stated they had poor health literacy at pre-testing. This dropped to 31 percent during the post-test evaluation.
Third graders considered to have a high health literacy increased from 36 percent pre-test to 78 percent post-test. Other grades improved by 11 percent to 28 percent.
The percentage of fourth-graders with low health literacy dropped from 14.6 percent at pre-testing to 4.5 percent post-test.
The percent of fifth grade students who reported being “sort of healthy” increased from 38 percent pre-test to 52 percent post-test.
The goals of the program include not only improving health knowledge and health literacy, but instilling lifelong healthy behaviors in the young minds of the county’s students.
Since Atlantic General Hospital and its partners launched the IHLP in 2012 with a pilot in Ocean City Elementary’s second grade classrooms, the IHLP has expanded into grades one through five countywide, and a pilot in sixth grade at one local middle school.
As of the 2015-2016 school year, the IHLP now serves more than 2400 students, which is roughly a third of the entire school district.
During the 2016-2017 school year, the goal of the IHLP team is to begin pilot programs in grades seven and eight.
The program as a whole aims for adoption of Health Literacy standards statewide and one day nationwide.  
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