BACKGROUND: To identify whether school health policies and programs vary by demographic characteristics of schools, using data from the School Health Policies and Programs Study (SHPPS) 2006. This study updates a similar study conducted with SHPPS 2000 data and assesses several additional policies and programs measured for the first time in SHPPS 2006.
METHODS: SHPPS 2006 assessed the status of 8 components of the coordinated school health model using a nationally representative sample of public, Catholic, and private schools at the elementary, middle, and high school levels. Data were collected from school faculty and staff using computer-assisted personal interviews and then linked with extant data on school characteristics.
RESULTS: Results from a series of regression analyses indicated that a number of school policies and programs varied by school type (public, Catholic, or private), urbanicity, school size, discretionary dollars per pupil, percentage of white students, percentage of students qualifying for free lunch funds, and, among high schools, percentage of college-bound students. Catholic and private schools, smaller schools, and those with low discretionary dollars per pupil did not have as many key school health policies and programs as did schools that were public, larger, and had higher discretionary dollars per pupil. However, no single type of school had all key components of a coordinated school health program in place.
CONCLUSIONS: Although some categories of schools had fewer policies and programs in place, all had both strengths and weaknesses. Regardless of school characteristics, all schools have the potential to implement a quality school health program.