K–12 Health Education That Works!

National Sexuality Education Standards

The goal of the National Sexuality Education Standards (NSES) is to provide clear, consistent and straightforward guidance on the essential minimum core content for sexuality education that is developmentally and age-appropriate.

HealthSmart sexual health lessons in Grades K through 12 have been aligned to the NSES.

View the alignment to NSES >>

Specifically, the NSES were developed to address the inconsistent implementation of sexuality education nationwide and the limited time allocated to teaching the topic. The Standards:

  • Outline what, based on research and extensive professional expertise, are the minimum, essential content and skills for K–12 sexuality education given student needs, limited teacher preparation and typically available time and resources.
  • Assist schools in designing and delivering K–12 sexuality education that is planned, sequential and part of a comprehensive school health education approach.
  • Provide a clear rationale for teaching sexuality education content and skills at different grade levels that is evidence-informed, age-appropriate and theory driven.
  • Support schools in improving academic performance by addressing a content area that is both highly relevant to students and directly related to high school graduation rates.
  • Present sexual development as a normal, natural, healthy part of human development that should be a part of every health education curriculum.
  • Offer clear, concise recommendations for school personnel on what is age-appropriate to teach students at different grade levels.
  • Translate an emerging body of research related to school-based sexuality education so that it can be put into practice in the classroom.