Using Policy to Create Healthy Schools: Resources to Support Policymakers and Advocates

Authors:

Jamie Chriqui,

Victoria Stuart-Cassel,

Deborah Temkin,

Elizabeth Piekarz-Porter,

Kristy Lao,

Heather Steed, Kristen Harper,

Julien Leider,

Alexander Gabriel

Publication Date:

Jan 31, 2019

A healthy school is one that fully supports a student’s academic, physical, emotional, and social well-being. Increasingly, state education policies are moving beyond a focus on academic mastery to include aspects of healthy schools. Despite a growing knowledge base that stresses important linkages among aspects of well-being, policies tend to address students’ physical health separately from their mental and emotional health, which are, in turn, both addressed separately from a school’s social and emotional climate. To date, reflecting the siloed nature of policies, no comprehensive analysis of state policies has covered all domains of healthy schools.

As part of the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation’s Together for Healthy and Successful Schools Initiative, Child Trends partnered with the Institute for Health Research and Policy at the University of Illinois at Chicago and EMT Associates, Inc. to review relevant state statutes and regulations enacted as of September 2017 and analyze their alignment with the Whole School, Whole Community, Whole Child (WSCC) model of healthy schools. The WSCC covers 10 domains: health education; physical education and physical activity; nutrition environment and services; health services; counseling, psychological, and social services; social and emotional climate; physical environment; employee wellness; family engagement; and community involvement. Findings from this work are compiled in three products to help policymakers and advocates better understand the current landscape and consider the creation of policies that promote healthy schools:

A series of briefs describing states’ overall coverage of the WSCC and the comprehensiveness of each WSCC domain:

A series of cross-domain briefs that explore common policy approaches that bridge the WSCC framework (i.e., partnerships, student supports, and professional development)

State-by-state profiles detailing each state’s overall comprehensiveness, as well as details on how each state approaches selected topic areas from each WSCC domain:

Detailed data, including the associated statutory and regulatory language, are also available through the National Association of State Boards of Education’s State Policy Database on School Health.

Key Findings

We assessed each state’s coverage of the WSCC domains based on a set of topics identified through existing federal and NGO policy guidance. States were assessed as having no coverage, low coverage, moderate coverage, or comprehensive coverage based on the percentage of topics addressed in a given domain. States were then rated on the breadth and depth of their coverage of all 10 domains: deep (6 or more comprehensive domains), broad (8 or more moderate or comprehensive domains), limited (3 to 5 low domains), or weak (more than 6 low domains).

  • Ten states (AR, CO, CT, FL, IL, MN, MS, TN, TX, and WV) have both broad and deep coverage of the WSCC.
  • Twenty states have limited or weak coverage of the WSCC, covering only selected domains and topic areas.
  • Employee wellness has the least coverage across states; only one state (MS) comprehensively covers this domain.
  • Even for states that have broad and deep coverage, there is little integration between domains and topic areas. For example, two states (AR and CT) require schools to implement 11 different types of staff professional development around healthy schools. Identifying ways to integrate and coordinate professional development across multiple domains is critical to ensuring that schools adhere to such laws with fidelity.

Related Research

These products are part of a broader package of materials designed to help policymakers and advocates consider a more integrated approach to healthy school policies. Related materials include:


State Profiles

Alabama
Alaska
Arizona
Arkansas
California
Colorado
Connecticut
Delaware
District of Columbia
Florida
Georgia
Hawaii
Idaho
Illinois
Indiana
Iowa
Kansas
Kentucky
Louisiana
Maine
Maryland
Massachusetts
Michigan
Minnesota
Mississippi
Missouri
Montana
Nebraska
Nevada
New Hampshire
New Jersey
New Mexico
New York
North Carolina
North Dakota
Ohio
Oklahoma
Oregon
Pennsylvania
Rhode Island
South Carolina
South Dakota
Tennessee
Texas
Utah
Vermont
Virginia
Washington
West Virginia
Wisconsin
Wyoming