How to Build a NCHSE NHSA Curriculum

The National Health Science Assessment (NHSA) is one of the most widely-used and trusted assessments that measures a student’s knowledge of health science skills and concepts.

The NHSA is issued by the National Consortium for Health Science Education (NCHSE) according to standards that correlate to the modern needs of healthcare institutions.

For health science instructors, that leaves you with one very big question when it comes to the classroom.

How do you actually teach a course that teaches students what they need to know while prepping them to pass the NHSA exam?

You can build a great curriculum based on the National Health Science Assessment in four key steps:

  1. Learn the details of the exam
  2. Review your course standards
  3. Choose the right instructional materials
  4. Put your curriculum together

We’ll start with the most important step first -- knowing what’s on the exam!

1. Learn the Details of the National Health Science Assessment


Before you can build a curriculum based on the National Health Science Assessment, you need to know what’s on the test!

The actual assessment is based on the National Health Science Standards. These standards were developed by the NCHSE to help teachers understand what they should teach.

The National Health Science Standards were updated in May 2019, so when you’re referencing the information make sure you’re looking at the most recent version!

These standards are broken down into 11 “foundation standards:”

  1. Academic Foundation
  2. Communication
  3. Systems
  4. Employability Skills
  5. Legal Responsibilities
  6. Ethics
  7. Safety Practices
  8. Teamwork
  9. Health Maintenance Practices
  10. Technical Skills
  11. Information Technology in Healthcare

Each standard is made of subtopics that go further into the detail your students will need to know.

After reviewing the standards and exam details, don’t jump into planning just yet. There’s one more item you need before creating your curriculum.

2. Review Your Course Standards


No educator ever wants to “teach to the test.” To prevent that, you probably have standards for your course that you have to follow in the classroom

These requirements can come from your state, district, or school, but they all cover information that you must address in your class.

Some states, like Florida and Texas, have state-wide health science curriculum standards so every program has the exact same requirements.

In other states, course standards can vary from district to district.

Either way, it’s important that you ask your CTE administrator about the specific requirements of your class if you’re not sure.

If you need to meet those requirements and the national standards, you’ll need a curriculum that helps you hit every piece!

Once you know what you need to teach, it’s time to find instructional materials that will get the job done.

3. Choose the Right Instructional Materials


You have a lot of options for instructional materials when you’re filling out a curriculum that aligns to the NHSA exam.

These are the five most common choices:

  1. Test prep materials
  2. Free online resources
  3. Textbooks
  4. NCHSE’s health science curriculum package
  5. Digital curriculum

Depending on your teaching style and the needs of your students, one (or more) of these options may work better than the others!

Test Prep for the National Health Science Assessment

When the end goal of your course is to prepare students for NCHSE’s assessment, it’s common sense to use test prep materials.

These resources are a great way to measure how ready your students are for the exam, but they don’t help fill out your course curriculum.

So while you may prep your students to pass the NHSA exam, they may not know all of the other information they need to succeed in the workplace!

That’s why most teachers use test prep resources alongside one of the other curriculum options.

Free Online Resources

There are a ton of health science lesson plans and activity ideas on the Internet.

One of the best free online resources for high school health science classes is the Introduction to Health Science and Medical Technology - CTE Online Model.

What’s great about this free resource is each lesson and activity is developed by a real health science instructor or healthcare professional.

That means the creators know the information first-hand, something that doesn’t often happen with free resources from the Internet!

Still, you’ll need to be cautious when using free resources, since you don’t know the last time it was updated or how well it will help you meet your standards.

Because of this, teachers use free stuff as supplements along with more common instructional materials like textbooks!

Health Science Textbooks

Textbooks are the most common curriculum resource for health science classrooms. That’s because teachers are familiar with using textbooks to run their classes, and students are familiar with them as learning resources.

Unfortunately, there aren’t any health science textbooks specifically aligned to the National Health Science Assessment. You’d also have to do a lot of research to find one that aligns well with your state, district, or school standards.

If you want to use a textbook, you’ll have to go with a generic one for secondary health science courses and then review how closely it aligns to the standards.

Because of this, many teachers opt for materials specifically created to meet the National Health Science Standards!

NCHSE’s Health Science Curriculum Package

NCHSE has developed a health science curriculum enhancement package designed to help health science teachers meet the standards.

The curriculum package includes supplemental resources such as:

  • Teacher presentations
  • Classroom activities
  • Assessments
  • Skills checklists
  • And more!

Each teaching resource within the package is aligned to the National Health Science Standards and will help get students ready for the National Health Science Assessment.

The only downside of this resource is the fact that it’s meant to be used as a supplement, not a full curriculum.

That means even if you purchase the package, you’ll still need another type of instructional material to set the foundation of your course.

Because of this, many teachers choose the final type of instructional material!

Digital Health Science Curriculum

A digital curriculum system is a blended learning resource designed to help teachers introduce foundational concepts, teach hands-on skills, and get students ready for the National Health Science Assessment.

A digital curriculum comes packed with interactive lessons, classroom activities, teacher presentations, lesson plans, skills sheets, assessments, and more. That means a digital curriculum can take you from pre-course planning all the way to test day!

On top of that, the AES digital curriculum is always updated when the National Health Science Standards change.

(Unfortunately, we can’t speak for other digital curriculum developers in this regard because we don’t know their policies.)

So once you’ve started using a digital curriculum, you can keep using it as long as you teach the course!

That’s why so many health science instructors have implemented the HealthCenter21 digital curriculum system to teach the National Health Science Standards and help students pass the NHSA exam.

Either way, no matter which resource(s) you choose to teach your classes, you’ve got one last step – actually creating your curriculum syllabus!

4. Put Your NCHSE Curriculum Together


When it comes down to it, whichever instructional materials you use should make your life easier when building a curriculum.

Each option has its pros and cons, but some will work better when it comes to actually helping you go from class planning to National Health Science Assessment prep!

It’s usually best to pick one main resource like a textbook or digital curriculum. Then tie in the other options as supplements as needed.

At this point, it’s smart to lay out your entire course syllabus to make sure you don’t miss any concept or skill!

You could do all of this work from scratch and spend your nights and weekends getting everything ready.

Or you can join hundreds of health science teachers already using a system that does the hard work!

Teach the National Health Science Standards with HealthCenter21

HealthCenter21 is a full-fledged digital curriculum designed to help you teach lessons and prepare students for the National Health Science Assessment.

This is possible because HealthCenter21 was developed based on the national standards, so it’s specifically aligned to those requirements!

Want to learn more?

Click below to download the course alignment between HealthCenter21 and the National Health Science Assessment!

Download the National Health Science Assessment Guide