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Indiana State Department of Health

Nutrition & Physical Activity Home > Statewide Height and Weight Data Collection for School Children > Collection Guidelines for Height and Weight Measurements > Questions from Schools Questions from Schools

 

  1. Why do we need to collect weight and height data in schools?
    We need this data in order to apply future community programs that will prevent and treat childhood overweight and obesity. It is necessary to get epidemiological data both cross-sectionally and longitudinally to track our progress this year and into the future. The only way to get this data in a systematic way is to directly measure body growth in school age children. This baseline information will allow the state to focus and target critical areas for education and intervention to control overweight and obesity.
  2. Is this mandated by law?
    No, it is not a law mandated program; however, we highly recommend that you participate in this data collection survey. Currently, the state has limited data on the health status of our school children and we need to establish a baseline in order to develop policies for the future. Furthermore, by establishing this critical baseline we can demonstrate our need for funding when applying for grants. Your participation in this project is noteworthy and much appreciated.
  3. We are very busy and we won’t be able to do it. Is there a penalty?
    No, there’s no penalty but we still would encourage you to participate. Refer to previous question. Even if you are unable to obtain 85% of your school, some data is better than no data.
  4. Do we need to do this every year?
    This will be decided before the end of May 1, 2006.
  5. Should all the measurements occur on one day?
    No, schools can measure students on any number of days. The measurement must be completed by May 1, 2006.
  6. Are we conducting body mass index?
    No. Only height and weight data will be reported to the Department of Education (DOE). Other analysis will be conducted by epidemiologist at the Indiana State Department of Health (ISDH).
  7. My school has received tapes and squares for the weight and height measurement. Does it mean that I should no longer use the tape and square I’ve been using?
    Epidemiological analysis prefers certain type of equipment be used, but there’s no assurance that this is always the case. You can continue to use your equipment if it’s under good working condition and measurement reading is accurate.
  8. What if we have already measured the students or used different methods to measure the students?
    The guideline book provides by no means a sole method for weight and height collection, but reflects Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommended protocols based on good practice. If you have just completed the data within a year, please submit them to DOE as indicated in the guideline book. If the data collected is older than one year, we won’t include it to the epidemiological analysis because children grow fast and a year may make a big difference for some children. 
  9. What does active parental permission mean?
    The project calls for active parental permission. Passive parental permission simply asks the parents to return the note if they choose to have their child not participate in the screening, activity, etc. Active parental permission requires the parent to return the note in which they have indicated their child may participate or not participate. Each of the letters sent home would have information about the project, what it is, why it is important, and what we hope to accomplish. This part of the letter is informational, there are pieces of advocacy, there are pieces of marketing...call it what you will, but it is one of the early mechanisms we use to bring parents on board and increase our base of support. If the parents are not on board...we will be missing a huge component in any prevention or intervention. The permission section of the letter follows and is the part that is returned to the school. The requirement of active parental permission for this project has been reviewed/approved by DOE General Counsel. Active parental permission can be a letter or a permission slip that can be carried home by the students and returned to the school by the students. There is no need to incur the expense of postage/mailing.
  10. How do I get parental consent from parents?
    Either develop your own or download a sample from our website. Send it home with student for parental signature. 
  11. What age group is the #1 priority?
    There’s no number one priority. We need cross sectional data so all the age groups from K-12 are important.
  12. I can not find instructions to make a sheet to record data?
    You may download a sample from our website. Modify or use it the way it is.
  13. What should I do if student refuses, but parent approves?
    Respect student’s wish.
  14. What is the Student Test Number or STN?
    The Student Test Number (STN) is assigned to students when they take standardized tests. There is usually one person designated at each school who has these student test numbers. They can always insert the student test numbers after the data has been recorded into an excel document. The STN is nine digits and should have no dashes.
  15. What if we don’t know who has the Student Test Numbers?
    A good place to start is your school principal or superintendent. Someone at your school will have these numbers. Some schools refer to them as a state ID number. If you still have no idea, contact the DOE.
  16. Can we use volunteers to assist weight and height measurement?
    Follow your school policy on volunteering. Use similar methods that are used for vision or scoliosis screening.
  17. Why does the manual say the scale is an inaccurate way to measure height?
    Some balanced scales are old and not in working condition. The height measure may be out of place, especially when it is not against the wall. Having children standing on scale would automatically make many children taller than school staff that does measurement. According to CDC and other good practice (South Dakota, for example), if measuring stick on a standing scale was used, the children would be inaccurately reported as shorter than they are. Use your judgment in your work place.
  18. I have an old scale. It’s not perfectly accurate but I don’t have funding to purchase a new one. Can I still use it?
    We would suggest that you do not use the scale which is not accurate. Some good digital scales only cost $40-$60. Please work with school principle and/or PEO.
  19. Won’t it be unsafe if a nurse is a lot shorter then the students she/he is measuring and she/he has to stand on a stool to complete height measurement?
    Use your best judgment. If you don’t feel safe to stand on a stool, ask other staff to assist.
  20. How do we report the data?
    Very carefully read the process for reporting immediately following the reporting spreadsheet example. In order to be able to submit the report electronically and maintain confidentiality, the process described in the guidelines is necessary. The DOE already has in place an electronic reporting system. There is someone in your school corporation that has the responsibility of reporting school/corporation data to the DOE. You will need to work with that person to electronically submit reports...they know how it works, they are used to the process, and they are the only person who can match student name and STN. In fact, they can probably drop the student names into the spreadsheet. You will not need to record any information in the STN column. Student names will be stripped from the report before it is electronically submitted. The DOE does not have records that connect STN to a student name...nor do we need one. The department does have age, gender, race, and ethnicity data that has been reported by local schools/corporations. Look at the ASAP section on the DOE web page http://doe.state.in.us/. There is considerable information about your schools. After the additional data has been dropped into the report, the STNs will be stripped before the report is sent to the ISDH. If you have fewer than 85% of the students participating in this project...electronically submit a report for those students that were measured. The epidemiologists are eager for all the data that can be provided. Only report data on students for which you have obtained active parental permission. All this is necessary to assure confidentiality for the student. This process has been reviewed by DOE General Counsel.
  21. Do we submit the information as a corporation or as individual buildings?
    Information is submitted by schools.
  22. What data system should we use in terms of reporting weight and height data we collect to the Department of Education? Is there any software I can use?
    An excel sample form has been sent to you in the information packet. You may either modify it and make your own form or download a sample from our website. DOE will send you instructions regarding how to submit data.
  23. Can we get help from local health department?
    ISDH has been working with its local clinics including local health departments to recruit volunteers to provide assistance to schools. We have around 2000 schools but only 230 clinics, so direct assistance might be limited. Please send CNOP the Collection Contact Information Sheet that was inserted in the packets you received indicating the assistance you desperately need and we’ll try to arrange staff to assist you.
  24. Is it OK to release this measurement to individual teachers who ask to put it to the student’s report card?
    This is not the purpose of this project. We do not recommend it.
  25. Who will own the data?
    After schools submit data to DOE, DOE will own the data.