Visualizing data about the healthy schools policy landscape

BlogHealthy SchoolsApr 3 2019

State policymakers increasingly recognize the importance of establishing school environments that support students’ physical, mental, social, and academic needs. To support these efforts, Child Trends recently released a comprehensive policy analysis of state laws related to the Whole School, Whole Community, Whole Child (WSCC) framework of healthy schools. The report documents how all 50 states and the District of Columbia address more than 195 topic areas embedded within the 10 domains of the WSCC: 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.

Although the report provides a national overview of each overarching domain, it does not provide the same level of detail for each topic. To extend the utility of these data, we developed a companion data visualization that allows users to quickly understand how the United States is addressing school health issues through policy. The visualization illustrates the extensive variability between states in their prioritization of and approach to the broad range of factors that affect conditions for learning. In doing so, it highlights the need to continue to help states understand the interconnections between school health issues and the importance of making sure all students have the support they need to thrive.

The visualization is fully dynamic, allowing users to select topics of interest, hover over individual states to understand that state’s approach to the topic, and click through to the National Association of State Boards of Education’s State Policy Database on School Health, which includes all relevant statutory and regulatory language for each policy topic by state. Users can also download an image file of each map.