What Is ESHE…and Do I Really Need Another Acronym in My Life?

Valerie Sedivy

Valerie Sedivy

The field of sexual health, like so many others, is loaded with acronyms. To describe programs, we have EBI (Evidence Based Interventions), EBP (Evidence-Based Programs), and CSE (Comprehensive Sex Education), just to name a few. And now we have a new one in the mix: ESHE, or Exemplary Sexual Health Education. It’s worth learning this acronym and what it means. ESHE is a step forward for the field, and it’s a major component of a recent funding initiative by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Division of Adolescent and School Health (CDC-DASH).

ESHE focuses on the content of programs or curricula, but it has an equal emphasis on the way that the content is delivered. ESHE has content that reflects peer-reviewed research on the characteristics of effective programs. This means that content is medically accurate, consistent with scientific evidence, and tailored to students’ needs and the contexts and educational practices of communities.  ESHE includes opportunities for students to develop and demonstrate developmentally appropriate sexual health-related knowledge, attitudes, skills, and practices.  ESHE also emphasizes that the content must be delivered effectively, meaning the content is delivered by well-qualified and well-trained instructors who know how to use effective instructional methods to deliver the program the way it’s intended to be delivered.

Many of us put a lot of thought into selecting or crafting an educational program that stands the best chance of helping young people stay healthy. It’s much harder to ensure instructors and health educators can not only deliver the curriculum content but deliver it in the most effective way. CDC-DASH is making it possible for their funded partners to develop methods for doing just that, and Healthy Teen Network will be supporting local education agencies along the way. We’ll keep you posted on our efforts as the project progresses.

Is ESHE a new term for you? Would you say it applies to some of the work you’re already doing?

Valerie Sedivy is a Senior Program Manager at Healthy Teen Network.

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