School Physical Activity & Nutrition-Environment Tool (SPAN-ET)

Oregon State University Extension


The School Physical Activity and Nutrition Environment Tool (SPAN-ET) is a PSE Change tool used by school sector stakeholders to assess elementary and middle/high school resources and readiness to improve nutrition and physical activity (PA) environments, suggest appropriate improvement strategies, score and measure outcomes resulting from environmentally-based treatments. The elementary SPAN-ET includes 28 items-Area of Interest and middle/high HSPAN-ET includes 29 items-Areas of Interest in two main component categories, PA and nutrition, and considers the policy, situational, and physical environment within each component. 

Target Behavior: Healthy Eating, Physical Activity

Intervention Type: PSE Change

Intervention Reach and Adoption

SPAN-ET targets elementary school-aged youth (grades k-5/6) in SNAP-Ed eligible (>50% students eligible for free/reduced meals) elementary school settings. HSPAN-ET targets middle and high school-aged youth (grades 7-12) in SNAP-Ed eligible middle and high school settings.   

Setting: School

Age: Elementary School; Middle/High School

Race/Ethnicity: All

Intervention Components

SPAN-ET includes direct observation, interview, document review, and school wellness coalitions. Coalitions include SNAP-Ed staff, utilize the SPAN-ET Results and Resource Guide that provides assessment details to individual schools as to which criteria were met relative to their SPAN-ET scores, and links appropriate research-based, practice-based or emerging PSE strategies with each criterion to tailor school-based PSE implementation to unmet criteria. The HSPAN-ET engages middle and/or high school students as auditors to conduct direct observation, interview, and document review and participate as members of school wellness coalitions. These intervention components contribute to school environmental and policy improvements aimed at supporting students’ healthy weight, healthy dietary, and PA behaviors at school. 

Intervention Materials

Online materials (SPAN-ET) and self-directed online training modules are under development (pending funding).

Intervention Costs

Organizational adopter training using Oregon State Extension master trainerfacilitated online modules (6 contact hours) costs $1,500 for either SPAN-ET or HSPAN-ET adoption. 

Evidence Summary

The SPAN-ET was evaluated to be a reliable instrument for assessing the quality of elementary school PA and nutrition environments and a sensitive measure for objectively identifying specific attributes of SPAN-ET areas of interest (PSEs) to target for school environmental and policy improvements aimed at supporting students’ weight healthy dietary and PA behaviors at school.

  • John, DH, Gunter, K, Jackson, J, & Manore, M (2016). Developing the School Physical Activity and Nutrition Environment Tool (SPAN-ET) to Measure Qualities of the Obesogenic Context. J Sch Health.86(1):39-47.
  • John, DH, Halverson, B, & Ho, T. (2019). Adapting an Elementary School Nutrition Context Assessment for High School Settings and StudentsJ Human Sci Extension, 7(3).  

Classification: Research-tested

Evaluation Indicators

Based on the SNAP-Ed Evaluation Framework, the following outcome indicators can be used to evaluate intervention progress and success.

Readiness and Capacity – Short Term (ST) Changes – Medium Term (MT) Effectiveness and Maintenance – Long Term (LT) Population Results (R)
Environmental Settings ST5ST7 MT5, MT6 LT5, LT6, LT9, LT10
Sectors of Influence


Evaluation Materials

The SPAN-ET is an evaluation tool that drives PSE interventions; no evaluation materials will be developed for the SPAN-ET. Developers have proposed (pending funding) to validate the SPAN-ET items (Areas of Interest) relative to individual-level outcomes. To date, examination has included only select SPAN-ET-driven PA PSE change relative to changes in students’ in-school PA bout behaviors and weekly levels. 

Additional Information

Website:Oregon State Extension SPAN-ET webpage includes an overview of the SPAN-ET and sample HSPAN-ET tools. 

Contact Person(s):

Deborah H. John, Program Director 
Professor and Extension Specialist for Health Equitable Communities 
College of Public Health and Human Sciences
Oregon State University
Phone: (541) 737-1405