Updates to iCHAMPSS Decision-Support System Aim to Help Educators Meet Revised Requirements for Sexual Health Education in Texas Schools

Updates to iCHAMPSS Decision-Support System Aim to Help Educators Meet Revised Requirements for Sexual Health Education in Texas Schools

iCHAMPSS, CHoosing And Maintaining Effective Programs for Sex Education in Schools, a CHPPR-developed web-based implementation strategy and toolkit, has been updated to provide guidance for implementing sexual health education curricula in line with recent updates by the Texas State Board of Education and Texas legislature. Originally piloted in 2014, iCHAMPSS was designed to reduce barriers and facilitate the adoption, implementation, and maintenance of sexual health evidence-based programs (EBPs) in Texas schools. The updated version of the website is referred to as iCHAMPSS 2.0.

In 2020, the Texas State Board of Education updated the Texas Essential Knowledge and Skills (TEKS) for the first time in more than twenty years, including updates to the content of sexual health education such as including information on topics like anatomy, puberty, reproduction, contraception and the prevention, screening, and treatment of sexually transmitted infections (STIs). Further, there are updated legislative requirements that school districts must follow in regards to processes for curriculum adoption, parental notification, and consent related to sexual health education. EBPs that have demonstrated positive change in adolescent sexual behavior exist, but have not seen widespread implementation in schools due to a variety of barriers.

We know that EBPs can help students have healthier relationships and delay sexual behavior,” said Melissa Peskin, PhD, Principle Investigator for iCHAMPSS. “However, there are still many challenges that school districts encounter when trying to adopt and implement these programs in schools.”

From 2021 to 2022, researchers and staff at UTHealth Houston, in collaboration with Healthy Futures of Texas (formerly The Texas Campaign to Prevent Teen Pregnancy), systematically updated the iCHAMPSS website and tools to reflect these statutory and regulatory changes and to help educators and other community members navigate the new processes and policies set by the updated requirements.

To help educators implement the best EBPs to meet their needs and the new TEKS requirements, iCHAMPSS 2.0 includes reviews of thirteen widely used EBPs, which were specifically evaluated for their alignment with the updated TEKS. Summaries of these EBPs with what percentage of the TEKS curriculum standards are covered by each are available directly on the website. The new website also features new facts and tips for users, updated instructions for navigating the school district EBP adoption process, and general improvements to user-friendliness and accessibility.

“School districts may find it overwhelming to adopt and implement sexual health curricula, particularly due to recent changes in state law,” said Belinda Hernandez, PhD, Co-Investigator. “However, iCHAMPSS 2.0 offers a solution by providing step-by-step guidance, making the process less daunting and helping districts ensure compliance with the law.”

Early usability testing was performed with participants including school administrators, curriculum coordinators, parents, and other stakeholders. Results are promising, with all participants reporting that they liked iCHAMPSS 2.0, found it more helpful than their district’s currently available resources, and would use it again.

Recruitment for pilot testing of iCHAMPSS 2.0 is still ongoing. Educators interested in participating can contact iCHAMPSS Project Coordinator, Laura Thormaehlen at [email protected].

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