State Laws Matter When It Comes to District Policymaking Relative to the Whole School, Whole Community, Whole Child Framework

Research BriefHealthy SchoolsDec 7 2020

The Whole School, Whole Community, Whole Child (WSCC) framework supports the “whole child” across 10 domains. This study assessed state law and district policy WSCC coverage.


Primary legal research was used to compile relevant district policies and state laws for a stratified random sample of 368 public school districts across 20 states for school year 2017‐18. Policies/laws were evaluated on 79 items across the WSCC domains (range: 3‐14 items/domain). Multivariable regressions examined the relationship between state laws and district policies, controlling for district characteristics, and weighted to account for the sample design and non‐response.


On average, district policies and state laws addressed 53% and 60% of the 79 items, respectively. State law predicted district policy WSCC attention across items (coeff. = 0.26, 95% CI = 0.14, 0.38) and 4 domains: physical activity (coeff. = 0.57, 95% CI = 0.29, 0.86); health services (coeff. = 0.50, 95% CI = 0.39, 0.62); social and emotional climate (coeff. = 0.34, 95% CI = 0.23, 0.45); and family engagement (coeff. = 0.41, 95% CI = 0.28, 0.54). State law was associated with lower district‐level coverage in 3 domains (health education; counseling, psychological, and social services; and community involvement).


Although WSCC implementation is locally‐driven, states have an active role to play in setting a policy “floor” for guiding district WSCC attention.

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