During the monthly meeting of the North Carolina State Board of Education on May 2, representatives from the Department of Public Instruction (DPI) finally unveiled the third and final draft of proposed content standards for Healthful Living. When approved by the state board, the standards will prescribe what K–12 students throughout North Carolina should know and be able to do after they complete each grade or course in the areas of Physical Education and Health.

The John Locke Foundation’s Center for Effective Education (CEE) has been monitoring the standards revision process, which has been in progress since 2021.

After months of delays, standards writers released the first draft of the standards in late May 2023 and the second draft in December 2023. After analyzing the drafts, we wrote that they could be improved by placing greater emphasis on the primacy of parents in giving their children health-related information and guidance, adding language that better aligns the standards with statutory expectations of premarital abstinence, and promoting refusal skills that would help students avoid preventable health risks.

Members of the education community and the public had the opportunity to weigh in on both drafts. According to representatives from DPI, more than 800 survey responses were submitted on Draft 2. Most of the comments and feedback related to the Health standards for grades 6 through 9.

If the State Board of Education approves the draft at its next meeting, which seems likely, teachers will begin using the standards to guide their instruction during the 2025–26 school year. It will be another five to seven years before the standards are reviewed and revised again.

Is the newly released draft an improvement from the prior version? We haven’t had time to give the standards a full review, but look for a more detailed analysis from CEE in the coming weeks.

View the third draft of the Health and Physical Education standards here and here, respectively. The State Board of Education is set to vote on the standards at its meeting in June.

For other articles discussing North Carolina’s Healthful Living Standards, see the following: