Make the case for promising practices by collecting and sharing data

A story from Utah


“What gets measured, gets improved…”

Tim Best, Healthy Lifestyles Director
Davis School District

Tim Best, Healthy Lifestyles Director for Davis School District in Utah, found that compelling data was required to “turn the battleship” and convince administrators that physical activity is an important part of the school day.

During the 2012-2013 school year, Davis School District conducted a pilot program to examine the effects of physical activity on students.  The goal of the program was to replace 10% of state mandated instructional time with movement.  This 10% was achieved by having a 15 minute session of physical activity in the morning and a 10 minute session in the afternoon.

Since 2012, this program – Healthy Bodies, Healthy Minds – has added schools each school year to increase physical activity minutes and measure the resulting academic achievement, specifically test scores for language arts, math, and science.

Key Takeaways

Share results with administrators. Before committing to a new way of doing things, administrators want to see the data and a program’s effects on academic indicators. Conducting a pilot and sharing results with administrators helped Mr. Best build buy-in and convince them to implement this new practice.

“Once elementary principals saw that test scores were OK, that they were having less trips to the office for behavior issues, that tardies were cut down…once I had some of that data to show administrators and teachers, I had principals calling me to say ‘what can we do to get this program in our schools.’”

Keep parents in the loop. Mr. Best attended Back to School Night and shared information and academic results with parents about the Healthy Bodies, Healthy Minds program. The parents’ responses were overwhelming: “Not one parent was saying, ‘Hey, why are you trying to make my kid healthier?’ They were asking, ‘Why hasn’t this been done before? What took you so long?’”

After pilot testing with control schools and intervention schools, the data told a compelling story: the test scores in the intervention schools went up. Proficiency in language arts, math, and science all increased in schools who participated in the intervention. By tracking the outcomes of a new practice, Mr. Best was able to build buy-in with administrators who may have been wary of taking time away from instruction. Read more about the program here: