Health Education and Life Skills, taught by a licensed health education specialist, is the school's instructional program that promotes the knowledge, attitudes and behaviors to understand and practice concepts related to health promotion and disease prevention.

The Health Education and Life Skills component promotes:
  • Access to valid health information and health promotion products and services;
  • The practice of health enhancing behaviors and reduction of health risks;
  • The ability to analyze the influence of culture, media, technology, and other factors on health;
  • The use of interpersonal communication skills to enhance health;
  • The use of goal setting and decision making skills; and
  • Advocacy for personal, family, and community health.

Goal: Develop students' commitment to life-long health through a school/community which values and promotes interdisciplinary, sequential, skill-based health education.

Health Education Content Standards

The New Mexico Health Education Content Standards with Benchmarks support schools to implement effective School Health Education. The Health Education Standards developed for New Mexico are in line with the National Standards established for Health Education. School districts must have their curriculum aligned to the standards and assess student progress at the benchmarks.

School Health Education as Life Skills

School health education focuses on skills and standards-based health education. Traditionally health education has emphasized the learning and comprehension of health facts. The health education curriculum was organized around health topic areas taught as multiple independent instructional units designed to increase knowledge.

Health education as life skills education emphasizes the ability to use essential knowledge and skills necessary to adopt, practice, and maintain healthy behaviors. Health education as life skills requires a curriculum focused on the prevention of six risky behaviors:

  • use of tobacco, alcohol and other drugs
  • dietary patterns
  • sedentary lifestyles
  • behaviors that result in sexually transmitted diseases and unintended pregnancy
  • behaviors that result in unintentional injuries
  • violent and other anti-social behaviors

A life skills approach to health education provides sequential K-12 instructional units designed to develop essential knowledge in these skill areas:

  • communication
  • non-violent conflict resolution
  • decision-making
  • goal setting
  • stress management
  • resisting negative social pressure
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School Health Rules on Health Education & Life Skills

Health Education


  • Standards for Excellence General Provisions contains the requirements, educational standards and student expectations in public schools.  Specific to health education, Standards for Excellence General Provisions requires:
    • All first, second and third grade classes to provide instruction that meets content standards, benchmarks and performance standards in health education.
    • In fourth through eighth grades, the provision of instruction that meets academic content and performance standards shall be provided in health education.
    • In ninth through twelfth grades, the provision of instruction that meets academic content and performance standards shall be provided in health education.
    • For students entering the eight grade in the 2012-2013 school year, a course in health education is required prior to graduation. Health education may be required in either middle school or high school, as determined by the school district.  Each school district shall submit to the department by the beginning of the 2011-2012 school year a health education implementation plan for the 2012-2013 and subsequent school years including in which grade health education will be required and how the course aligns with the department content and performance standards. ( )


  • New Mexico Content Standards with Benchmarks and Performance Standards for Health Education are mandated for students in grades K-12.  The New Mexico Health Education Content Standards with Benchmarks were adopted in March 1997 as part of 6.30.2 NMAC; the Performance Standards were added in June 2007.
  • New Mexico Content Standards with Benchmarks and Performance Standards for Health Education were adapted from the national standards for health education.
  • Each school district must develop and implement a policy that will insure that parents have the ability to request that their child be exempted from the parts of the health education curriculum that addresses the sexuality performance standards.
Wellness Policies


  • This rule requires each school district and charter school to develop and implement local wellness policies that include:
    • A planned, sequential, K-12 health education curriculum that addresses the physical, mental, emotional, and social dimensions of health and is aligned to the health education content standards with benchmarks and performance standards as set forth in NMAC.
HIV, STD, and Pregnancy Prevention Education HUMAN IMMUNODEFICIENCY VIRUS (HIV):

  • Requires each school district to provide instruction about HIV and related issues in the curriculum of the required health education content area to all students in the elementary grades, in the middle/junior high school grades, and in the senior high school grades. "The instructional program shall include, but not necessarily be limited to: definition of HIV and acquired immune deficiency syndrome (AIDS); the symptoms and prognosis of HIV and AIDS; how the virus is spread; how the virus is not spread; ways to reduce the risks of getting HIV/AIDS, stressing abstinence; societal implications for this disease; local resources for appropriate medical care; and ability to demonstrate refusal skills, overcoming peer pressure, and using decision-making skills.