About CLASS

The Classification of Laws Associated with School Students (CLASS) website uses two policy classification systems to score state-level codified laws for physical education (PE) and nutrition in schools. The scoring criteria for these systems are based on current public health research and national recommendations and standards for PE and nutrition in schools.

CLASS data, maps, and profiles can be used to compare PE and nutrition laws from all 50 states and the District of Columbia with national standards and medians, allowing users to assess differences across states and changes over time.

CLASS data are currently available from 2003-14. Policies are coded yearly from 2003-08, biennially 2008-12, and yearly thereafter. Data reflect the codified laws of each state as of December 31 of the specified year. CLASS scores represent the law in effect in the specified year, not law creation date. It is important to note that scores reflect codified laws as they are reported to the primary legal research databases. These databases can take several months to update, which in turn, can create a time lag between the end of the calendar year and the time scores can be determined and reported.

How is CLASS used?
CLASS can help users monitor, classify, and evaluate the strength of school physical activity and nutrition policies across states and over time. Scores may also be used in larger evaluation studies to examine the relationship of state laws with student behavioral and school environment outcomes.

RESEARCHERS go to CLASS to: Download data to analyze school diet- and physical activity-related laws.

Use the data to:
  • Examine laws within and across grade levels.
  • Link the data with other surveillance, health, and education data sets.
  • Track changes in laws over time.
  • Evaluate factors associated with implementation of laws.
POLICYMAKERS go to CLASS to: Monitor how state PE and nutrition policies compare to other states using the map and state report functions.

Use the data to:
  • Examine whether states are meeting the most current standards and recommendations for PE and nutrition.
  • Evaluate how state laws compare to other states.
SCHOOL BOARDS, TEACHERS, AND THE PUBLIC go to CLASS to: Examine how local policies compare to state laws.

Use the data to:
  • Examine laws within and across grade levels.

What types of policies are scored in CLASS?
CLASS includes statutory laws enacted by state legislatures and administrative laws carried out by state administrative agencies. These scored policies concern physical education/activity, food and nutrition, and body mass index. Policies that are codified into state law are independently reviewed and scored through an external contract with the National Cancer Institute.

PE policy areas covered in CLASS:

  • PE class time
  • Physical activity (PA) time requirements
  • Moderate/vigorous physical activity (MVPA) in PE
  • Staffing requirements for PE
  • PE curriculum standards
  • Proficiency requirements in PE
  • Assessment of health-related fitness
  • Recess time
  • Joint use agreement for physical activity
  • PE teacher requirements

School nutrition policy areas covered in CLASS:

  • Competitive entrées and snack foods—including a la carte in cafeterias, vending machines, school stores, canteens, and snack bars
  • Competitive beverages—including a la carte in cafeterias, vending machines, school stores, canteens, and snack bars
  • Coordinating, advisory, or wellness teams or councils requirements
  • Classroom parties/activities/events/practices (and exceptions)
  • School fundraiser beverage/non-entrĂ©e food/snacks requirements
  • Reimbursable school meals
  • School meal environment
  • Food service director qualifications
  • Nutrition education
  • Food marketing
  • Potable water
  • Farm-to-school program requirements
  • Body mass index screening
  • Smart Snacks food requirements
  • Smart Snacks beverage requirements

How was CLASS developed?
CLASS was developed using a conceptual framework informed by a thorough review of scientific and gray literature (written material that is not published commercially or is not generally accessible), as well as consultations with experts from NCI, CDC, MayaTech Corporation, and leading independent scientists.

For more information on the methodology for development of the coding system visit CLASS Actions.

What makes CLASS unique?
CLASS is distinct from other school policy scoring systems because it captures all codified law by school level, rather than only legislative action or informal policies that have not been codified into law. It uses empirical scoring systems developed with established content validity and offers researchers independent scoring by attorneys and policy analysts according to prevailing national standards for nutrition and physical education.

Funding opportunities
Funding Opportunity Announcement: School Nutrition and Physical Activity Policies, Obesogenic Behaviors and Weight Outcomes, issued by NCI, the National Heart Lung and Blood Institute, the National Institute of Child Health and Human Development, the Office of Behavioral and Social Sciences Research, and the CDC.

Grant applications are encouraged that propose to:

  1. Foster multidisciplinary research that will evaluate how policies (federal, state, and district levels) can influence school physical activity, nutrition environments, youths’ obesogenic behaviors (e.g., nutrition and physical activity behaviors), and weight outcomes.
  2. Understand how schools are implementing these policies and examine multilevel influences on adoption and implementation at various levels. (e.g., federal, state, district, and school)
  3. Understand the synergistic or counteractive effect of school nutrition and physical activity polices on the home and community environment and body weight.

Application and additional information is available at the links below.

Download the CLASS Fact Sheet (pdf, Updated February 2016)
This fact sheet is a two-page synopsis of the CLASS system and website.

CLASS Contacts:

For general CLASS inquiries and PE-related funding inquiries, contact:
Frank M. Perna, Ed.D., Ph.D.
Program Director and Health Psychologist
Health Behaviors Research Branch
Behavioral Research Program
pernafm@mail.nih.gov

For nutrition-related funding inquiries, contact:
Tanya Agurs-Collins, Ph.D., R.D.
Program Director and Nutritionist
Health Behaviors Research Branch
Behavioral Research Program
collinsta@mail.nih.gov

Highlights