Sandra Klarenbeek, health educator and Joanna Jones, reading specialist in the College of Education at Black Hills State University, presented “Health and Reading” at the Health Education Assessment Project (HEAP) in Madison, Wis., this summer.

The Health and Reading presentation provided a cutting edge framework for presenting the skills-based health literacy standards through literature based reading instruction in grades K-12. Strategies used in reading instruction and easily integrated into health were modeled. A work session was facilitated by Klarenbeek and Jones in which participants completed a book template, to be used in pre-service and in-service teacher training, and as a resource for classroom teachers to teach the health standards.

Following the presentation, a newly formed health and reading committee was established and participated in a collaborative work session to continue template development and dissemination through the HEAP Web-Based Assessment System (WBAS). Klarenbeek will be the chairperson for these committees and will do monthly work through web seminars. The HEAP meeting is designed in a way to engage the members in a think tank environment to link health education with 21st Century Skills, which is grounded in resource.

Another focus of HEAP is related to development of learning progressions and cognitive complexity assessment items aligned with the National Health Education Standards. Members are using the technology available through the WBAS to write and revise items to meet specific criteria for approval. In the end, those items approved will be added to the existing 1,900 items on the current database.

HEAP is an assessment project of the Council of Chief State School Officers’ State Collaborative on Assessment of South Standards (CCSSO/SCASS) whose current president is Dr. Rick Melmer, South Dakota Secretary of Education. HEAP’s mission is to develop effective health education assessment resources through a collaborative process, and to increase members’ capacity to align curriculum, instruction, and assessment to improve student health literacy through improved health instruction.

HEAP developed materials and technology are being used in the health methods courses at BHSU. These resources and instructional strategies provide cutting edge learning opportunities for education majors.