The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the Alliance for a Healthier Generation’s School Health Assessment Tool

Working with the Alliance for a Healthier Generation (the Alliance), the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has updated its School Health Index (SHI). The 2014 SHI guides school-based obesity prevention and health promotion efforts.

The Alliance has replaced its Healthy Schools Program Inventory with the School Health Index. By offering a unified assessment tool, the CDC and the Alliance make it easier for schools to implement policies and practices that can help students stay healthy and ready to learn. Benefits include:

  • Less confusion about which evidence-based assessment tool to use
  • Monitoring and alignment of school-based health policies and practices with national surveillance systems
  • Better coordination of training and technical assistance between the CDC and the Alliance
Accessing and Using the School Health Index

How do I access the School Health Index?

Two versions of the School Health Index are available from both the CDC and Alliance’s Healthy Schools Program websites.

Version 1: CDC website

The CDC website retains the full comprehensive School Health Index, continuing to address all six health topics (nutrition, physical activity, unintentional injury and violence prevention, tobacco use prevention, asthma, and sexual health.)

Version 2: Healthy Schools Program website

The Healthy Schools Program website hosts a version of the School Health Index that includes only the nutrition and physical activity health topics, plus some cross-cutting school health questions. 

Both versions of the SHI retain the eight self-assessment modules and an action planning component.

Which version of the School Health Index should I use?

School personnel solely interested in the nutrition and physical activity health topics should complete the SHI on the Healthy Schools Program website. School personnel interested in all six health topics as a comprehensive approach or interested in assessing some of the six health topics should complete the SHI on CDC’s website.

May I use results for my PEP grant application or for other state or district requirements?

Yes! The both the Alliance for a Healthier Generation and CDC websites give schools the options to print their results for inclusion in PEP grant applications and for other state/district requirements. 

What Switching to the School Health Index Means for Current Healthy Schools Program Users?

What does this mean for my Healthy Schools Program Inventory?

The Healthy Schools Program is now using the School Health Index as its assessment tool and will no longer offer its Healthy Schools Program Inventory. 

The SHI still allows for you to:

  • Identify the strengths and weaknesses of your school’s policies and programs for promoting health and safety.
  • Get a more accurate picture of your school health by answering questions on a 0-3 continuum, instead of simple yes/no answers.
  • Develop an action plan for improving school health and safety

Since the SHI is a new and updated tool, schools enrolled in the Healthy Schools Program that have existing inventories need to complete the SHI as part of their 2014-15 activities. The SHI has fewer questions than the former Healthy Schools Program Inventory.

What’s different about the SHI?

For current Healthy Schools Program users, some of the questions on the assessment tool are organized a bit differently.

The SHI also features updated nutrition content aligned with updated regulations, including Smart Snacks in School nutrition standards, as well as current pending regulations, such as updates to the Local Wellness Policy requirements. It also features updated physical education content to align with national standards and advancements in physical activity programming.

Data Security

Is my data in the School Health Index secure?


The Healthy Schools Program owns all data submitted via the Health Schools Program website. Individual school level data are only to be shared with a school. Individual school level data are not shared with a district unless they have received prior approval from that school’s leadership and the Healthy Schools Program. Aggregate district level data can be shared with the district and individual schools within that district. Aggregate district level data can also be shared with other stakeholders that have a vested interest in the HSP program, including funders, state agencies, community partners, etc.


The CDC does not ask that schools report their scores. The SHI is a self-assessment tool, and the data are not meant to be reported to outside agencies for the purposes of comparison.

Getting Assistance

How do I get help to use the tool?

The Alliance for a Healthier Generation and the CDC are working to make sure that technical assistance and training support is available for school health practitioners.

About the CDC and the Alliance for a Healthier Generation’s Healthy Schools Program

About the CDC

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) is the premier public health agency working to protect America from health, safety and security threats. Whether diseases start at home or abroad, are chronic or acute, curable or preventable, human error or deliberate attack, the CDC fights disease and supports communities and citizens to do the same. The CDC also leads the nation’s efforts to create expertise, information, and tools to support people and communities in preventing chronic diseases and promoting health for all.

The CDC is home to the School Health Branch in the Division of Population Health in the National Center for Health Promotion and Disease Prevention. The School Health Branch works to prevent chronic disease and promote the health and well-being of children and adolescents through schools. The Branch supports state, local, territorial, and tribal education and health agencies, and national organizations to help schools implement school health programs. The Branch also creates tools and resources such as the School Health Index to help schools prevent chronic disease-related risks. For the current 1305 cooperative agreement with state health departments, the CDC encourages the use of SHI.

About the Alliance’s Healthy Schools Program

The Alliance for a Healthier Generation, founded by the American Heart Association and the Clinton Foundation, works to reduce the prevalence of childhood obesity and to empower kids to develop lifelong, healthy habits. Research shows a strong link between a young person’s practice of healthy habits, including a good diet and regular physical activity, and an improvement in their overall life outcomes.  The Alliance’s Healthy Schools Program is a national, school-based childhood obesity prevention initiative that creates sustainable healthy change in schools and has a proven, positive impact on student health. Our work to help more than 31,000 schools improve physical education, health education, and nutrition has impacted more than 14 million students.