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Using State Policy to Create Healthy Schools

State education policies are often key determinants of how schools manage their resources and focus their efforts. Since data has shown that achievement is driven by more than academics, researchers from The Institute of Health Research and Policy at University of Illinois at Chicago, EMT Associates, and Child Trends reviewed and assessed state statutes using a rubric they devised of 136 variables across 11 healthy schools domains. These domains include the 10 components of the Whole School, Whole Community, Whole Child (WSCC) model: 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.

The results of their analysis, described in Using State Policy to Create Healthy Schools, shows that most states have some level of coverage, but only 10 states comprehensively addressing at least six domains. Additionally, some domains, such as health education and community involvement are more widely covered by states; others, like employee wellness and nutrition services, are not mentioned in most state policies. Even though many states have made considerable progress moving beyond academics, the researchers conclude that comprehensive support for the whole child in schools will require more time.