SALEM, Ohio - Schools in Ohio have long been rated on their academic performance. At the end of this school year, they'll also be graded on student wellness.
"As we transition to the new report card, we feel that we are able to share very good results to our community on how well the students are performing with wellness," said Matthew Bowen, principal at Damascus Elementary School. "This also has a positive correlation in the classroom because as students perform well, they are healthy, practice good nutrition and they are also ready to learn."
With the passage of The Healthy Choices for Healthy Children Act, Ohio schools, like Damascus Elementary, now are required to report information related to physical activity, health and wellness, including their compliance with local wellness policies, their participation in body mass index screenings and their participation in physical activity pilot programs.
Schools will also track whether students are able to meet certain physical education standards. In turn, the state will issue schools a high, moderate or low physical education index ranking.
At Damascus Elementary, physical education teacher Chris Tucker uses an iPad to help keep track of each student's progress.
"There are 12 benchmarks that we actually are required to evaluate and we have to go through and take the information down on each one and that just goes from like skipping and hopping. Then it could get as advanced as you know, game play ... are they in the right position? Different things like that, especially as the kids get older," Tucker said.
Tucker says the report card will serve more as an awareness tool, rather than a high-stakes test.
In addition to increasing students' physical activity, schools are also required to provide healthy meals and beverages at school under the new law.