Defense Date


Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy


Educational Leadership

First Advisor

Charol Shakeshaft


AN EXAMINATION OF THE FIDELITY AND BEST PRACTICES OF LOCAL IMPLEMENTATION OF STUDENT WELLNESS POLICIES IN VIRGINIA ELEMENTARY SCHOOLS AS MANDATED BY THE FEDERAL GOVERNMENT CHILD NUTRITION REAUTHORIZATION ACT SECTION 204 By Carol Atkinson Lewellyn, Ph.D A dissertation submitted in partial fulfillment of the requirements for the degree of Doctor of Philosophy at Virginia Commonwealth University. Virginia Commonwealth University, 2014 Major Director: Dr. Charol Shakeshaft, Ph.D. Professor, Department of Educational Leadership School of Education This study examined the extent of local implementation of student wellness policies in Virginia as mandated by the federal Children Nutrition and WIC Reauthorization Act. Using a nonexperimental quantitative design, this study evaluated the content of Virginia school division wellness policies and wellness policy implementation from the perspective of principals in elementary schools. The comprehensiveness and strength of the wellness policies were evaluated using the School Wellness Policy Evaluation tool. Quantitative data were collected from elementary school principals via a survey based on the components of the Governor’s Nutrition and Physical Activity Scorecard. Descriptive statistics, analysis of variance, and t-tests were conducted for the wellness policy dataset. Results indicated statistically significant difference in the mean scores for strength of wellness policies written by large school divisions and for school divisions located in cities. Further analysis of differences for practical meaning suggests that school division size and location influences wellness policy strength. There were no statistically significant differences in the policies based on free and reduced lunch qualification of students. Descriptive statistics and analysis of variance on survey responses found no statistically significant differences for wellness policy implementation based on school size, geographic location, or free and reduced qualifications. An examination of the combined data from the content analysis and wellness policy implementation suggests a relationship between written policy and practice. Wellness policy standards written with strong clarifying language were most often implemented in the elementary schools. Nutritional school meal standards and physical activity standards were implemented to a greater extent than other wellness standards. The standard for minimum nutritional standards for other foods and beverages outside of the school meal program and the standard for communication and promotion of wellness were not implemented as often. Evaluation standards were included in the wellness policies but implementation of this standard was not investigated in wellness policy implementation. Based on the findings, it is suggested wellness policy implementation could be extended by strengthening the standards for communication and promotion and other foods and beverages. Recommendations for continued research on wellness policy implementation include designing studies to directly address the correlation between the content of individual school division policies and wellness policy implementation. Further study is also recommended to link student health and wellness data to wellness policy implementation.


© The Author

Is Part Of

VCU University Archives

Is Part Of

VCU Theses and Dissertations

Date of Submission

May 2014