Whole Child

About The Whole Child Education Initiative

ASCD calls on parents, educators, policymakers, and communities to join forces to ensure our children become productive, engaged citizens. Our children deserve an education that emphasizes academic rigor as well as the essential 21st-century skills of critical thinking and creativity.

 Whole Child Education

At a time of rapid change and innovation, our education system is struggling to keep pace with this dynamic, digital world. Too often, young people are asked to learn 21st-century skills with 20th-century tools. Demands for a highly skilled and educated workforce are growing. The global marketplace is a reality. But the alarming fact is that we are still losing too many kids and wasting too much talent.

ASCD proposes a broader definition of achievement and accountability that promotes the development of children who are healthy, safe, engaged, supported, challenged, and with sustainable efforts. The Learning Compact Redefined: A Call to Action, recommends a new compact with our young people. The Compact asks local, state, and national policymakers to ensure conditions that support comprehensive approaches to learning — for engaging the whole child.

The Whole Child approach recognizes that each child, in each school, in each of our communities deserves to be healthy, safe, engaged, supported, and challenged. Learn more by watching the following video:

Additional information and resources are available at www.wholechildeducation.org


Whole Child Work In Rhode Island

In 2009, RIASCD applied for and received a grant from ASCD to begin working on a Whole Child initiative in our state. Subsequent grants have allowed the work to continue and to involve the production of a policy report, the development of a Whole Child Recognition Program for schools and districts, and movement toward a Whole Child Resolution in our state’s legislature.  The accomplishment of a Whole Child Resolution in our states legislature was adopted in 2013.   We are currently revising the Rhode Island ASCD website to provide resources across the state that speak to the Whole Child.


Rhode Island supports the Whole Child

RIASCD believes that the essence of our Whole Child initiative are in the relationships/ partnerships that are formed on behalf of all students. RIASCD proposes to strengthen education in Rhode Island by explicitly linking educational reform infrastructure to the ASCD Whole Child initiative. The outcome will be a collaborative and mutual Whole Child education policy agenda for RI. This activity will engage and influence current RIASCD partners as well as other educational leadership organizations and political leaders in RI to consider how a Whole Child approach to education in RI will enable RI students to achieve better education outcomes statewide.

In 2011, RIASCD published How a Whole Child Approach Can Transform Education in Rhode Island: Policy Analysis and Action Agenda. The report, endorsed by the Commissioner of the RI Department of Education and the Director of the RI Department of Health was subsequently distributed to , the Board of Regents, to the Rhode Island Congressional delegation, to all partner organizations who contributed to the document, and to key policy makers in the state legislature.

In January 2013, Representative Ray Gallison introduced the Whole Child Resolution (H5153) to the RI House of Representative. On February 13th, Rhode Island ASCD Executive Director and President testified before the Health Education and Welfare Committee. The resolution was introduced on the Senate side by Senator Hannah Gallo.  Following RIASCD testimony, in early April, the resolution was passed by the Rhode Island state representatives and has been adopted by the Rhode Island ASCD as a best practice.  Read a summary of resoluton.


New School Health Model Incorporates ‘Whole Child’ Principles

Federal officials and health experts unveiled a new school health model this week that incorporates “whole-child” elements-like school climate issues, student engagement, and community involvement-alongside components of the more traditional that has been widely used since it was introduced in 1987.

That coordinated school health model helps leaders organize and coordinate various efforts to improve student health and well-being at school, and it is used by many national organizations as part of criteria for grant applications. “However, it has been viewed by educators as primarily a health initiative focused only on health outcomes and has consequently gained limited traction across the education sector at the school level,” said an announcement of the new model by the two organizations that helped create it, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and ASCD. The new model places greater emphasis on “the symbiotic relationship between learning and health,” and it places a greater emphasis on collaboration between schools and their surrounding communities.

The announcement of the new model-called WHOLE SCHOOL, WHOLE COMMUNITY, WHOLE CHILD – came in a week packed full of efforts designed to emphasize that the needs of students extend beyond academics. On Tuesday, two members of the U.S. House of Representatives introduced a bipartisan resolution supporting the whole-child approach to education. And, coinciding with the release of the school health model, the CDC released new materials about the connections between student and academic achievement.connections between student health and academic achievement.

“It is time to really align the sectors and place the child at the center,” said Wayne Giles, the director of the division of population health at the CDC. “Both public health and education serve the same students, often in the same settings. We must do more to work together and collaborate.”

What comes next?

Representatives from the CDC and ASCD said they hope schools will adopt the Whole School, Whole Community, Whole Child model and use it as others have used the coordinated school health approach in the past. Schools have used that model to guide efforts like convening student- and staff-health advisory boards who help make decisions and offer insights on issues like what’s served in the cafeteria, how exercise is incorporated into after-school activities, and what policies school leaders adopt related to health and well-being. Schools can also refer to the new model to ensure that they are meeting the CDC’s goals in their grant applications.

Some states have also used the coordinated school health model to guide policy decisions, to form task forces to explore the needs of students, and to make funding decisions. Through the new model, the organizations hope to break student-health efforts out of the silos they are sometimes forced into so that they can be more integrated into schoolwide efforts that involve employees like classroom teachers. The new model can also ensure schools and community organizations are on the same page about their cooperative efforts.

What about that resolution?

Representatives Suzanne Bonamici, D-Ore., and Rodney Davis, R-Ill., introduced the resolution this week, and the Student Health Advocacy Coalition, a network of health and education associations, is asking other lawmakers to sign on as cosponsors. The nonbinding measure, which has been referred to committee, “expresses support for a whole-child approach to education; recognizes the benefit of ensuring students are challenged, supported, healthy, safe, and engaged; encourages parents, educators, and community members to support a whole-child approach to education for each student; and encourages the federal government to identify opportunities among federal agencies to coordinate the education, health, and social service sectors serving youth in the United States.”

While it would be nice to see our democratically elected lawmakers (who can barely agree on the name of a post office) agree that the whole-child approach is important, the resolution wouldn’t lead to any guaranteed policy change. Like everyone else who wants something from Congress, promoters of integrating health and academics are also asking for money. Specifically, the Student Health Advocacy Coalition would like more funding for the CDC’s School Health Branch and Division of Adolescent and School Health.

Tell Your Representative to Support the Whole Child!

The federal Whole Child Resolution (PDF) expresses the U.S. House of Representatives’ support for a whole child approach to education and its recognition of the benefits of ensuring that students are challenged, supported, healthy, safe, and engaged. The resolution also encourages parents, educators, and community members to support a whole child approach. Finally, it encourages federal agencies to coordinate the education, health, and social service sectors serving our nation’s youth.

 The whole child approach represents an important shift from federal policy’s current emphasis on standardized test scores and narrowly defined academic achievement to a broader perspective of education reform that promotes students’ long-term well-being and development. Such an approach, which considers the array of factors that affect learning, maximizes students’ academic achievement while preparing them for lifelong learning, career success, and active citizenship. 

 The Whole Child Resolution is an important step in promoting policies and decisions that support the whole child, but it needs your representative’s support to move forward. Ask your representative to cosponsor the resolution. 

 With ASCD’s easy-to-use template, it will take just a few minutes to send a customized message to your lawmaker.

 Just fill in your address and zip code below, click on the “Take Action” button, and complete the information and personalize your letter on the next page. Click “Send” to deliver your letter automatically to your representative. If your representative has already cosponsored the bill, you’ll be given the option to send a thank you letter.

ASCD and CDC Announce Whole School, Whole Community, Whole Child Model

Alexandria, VA (3/20/2014)—ASCD, a global community dedicated to excellence in learning, teaching, and leading, announced today the new Whole School, Whole Community, Whole Child (WSCC) model that is recommended as a strategy for improving students’ health and learning in our schools. Developed by ASCD and the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), in collaboration with key leaders from education, public health, and school health fields, the new model combines and builds on elements of the traditional coordinated school health approach and the whole child framework to strengthen a unified and collaborative approach to learning and health.

“ASCD is proud to announce the new Whole School, Whole Community, Whole Child model, providing an important framework to address the collaborative relationship between learning and health,” said ASCD Executive Director and CEO Dr. Gene R. Carter. “We look forward to continued work with the CDC on further development and implementation of this model as we seek to improve outcomes for each student, in each school, and in each community across our country.”

A whole child approach, which ensures that each student is healthy, safe, engaged, supported, and challenged, sets the standard for comprehensive, sustainable school improvement and provides for long-term student success. The new WSCC model responds to the call for greater alignment, integration, and collaboration between education and health to improve each child’s cognitive, physical, social, and emotional development.

The model incorporates the components of an effective school health program and the tenets of the whole child approach to education to address the symbiotic relationship between learning and health. In doing so, the model continues the focus of the traditional coordinated school health approach but aligns it with the structure, framework, and objectives of education. This is showcased by the expanded components focusing additional attention on the social and emotional climate of the school and classroom environments and the pivotal role that community involvement plays in the growth and development of our youth.

“Schools, health agencies, parents, and communities share a common goal of supporting the health and academic achievement of children and adolescents,” said Wayne H. Giles, M.D., Director of CDC’s Division of Population Health. “Research shows that the health of students is linked to their academic achievement, so by working together, we can ensure that young people are healthier and ready to learn.”

The Whole School, Whole Community, Whole Child model focuses its attention on the child, emphasizing a schoolwide approach and acknowledging learning, health, and the school as being a part and reflection of the local community. Because they have contact with 95 percent of U.S. children ages 5–17, schools are the primary institution responsible for childhood development, after the family. It is essential that schools have an effective and comprehensive school health model in place during these critical years of social, psychological, physical, and intellectual development.

Whereas the traditional coordinated school health model contained eight components, the WSCC contains 10, expanding Health and Safe School Environment, and Family/Community Involvement into four distinct components:

  • Social and Emotional Climate
  • Physical Environment
  • Family Engagement
  • Community Involvement

This change marks the need for greater emphasis on both the psychosocial and physical environment as well as the ever-increasing roles that community agencies and families must play. Finally, this new model also addresses the need to engage students as active participants in their learning and health.


In the WSCC model above, we see

  • The school in blue and green, surrounding the child, acting as the hub that provides the full range of learning and health support systems to each child, in each school, in each community
  • The community, represented in orange, demonstrating that while the school may be a hub, it remains a focal reflection of its community and requires community input, resources, and collaboration in order to support its students
  • The child in the center, at the focal point and surrounded by the whole child tenets: healthy, safe, engaged, supported, and challenged

CDC will be integrating this new model into its school health initiatives, placing ASCD’s whole child framework at the center of health and education alignment in school settings. For more information about CDC’s school health initiatives, visit www.cdc.gov/healthyyouth.

For more information about ASCD’s Whole Child Initiative, visit www.ascd.org/wholechild. To find out about ASCD’s focus on integrating learning and health visit www.ascd.org/learningandhealth. You can also find out more about ASCD’s other programs, products, services and memberships at www.ascd.org.


Rhode Island Partnership for Community Schools

On May 13th, RIASCD celebrated with the RI Partnership for Community Schools in recognition of that organization”s 20 year history in Rhode Island. The RIPCC works to expand the community school initiative statewide. Community schools (through Child Opportunity Zones aka COZ) integrate academic, social and health services and work with community partners to improve student and adult learning, strengthen families and create healthy and engaged communities. 
It is the holistic work of RIPCC aligning so closely with RIASCD’s Whole Child Initiative that resulted in the partnership on May 13th. Keynote addresses were delivered by Molly McCloskey, Director of the No Kid Hungry Campaign in Maryland; and by Hedy Nai-Lin Chang, Director of attendance Works. Best practice remarks were brought by Roy Seitsinger, Jr, Superintendent of Schools in Westerly and by Gara Field, Principal of Pleasant View Elementary School.  
At a reception that followed the Forum, awards were presented to educational leaders in Rhode Island who had been instrumental in developing and supporting community schools. Pictured below is Rosemary Reilly-Chammat, RIDE, presenting an award to William Hollinshead, RI Department of Health. Rosemary serves RIASCD as President-elect and Whole Child Steering Committee Chair.

Comprehensive Rhode Island Data Profile Measures State’s Support of the Whole Child

Alexandria, VA (5/21/2014)—ASCD, a global community dedicated to excellence in learning, teaching, and leading, released the Rhode Island Whole Child Profile highlighting how well the state is meeting the comprehensive needs of children at each stage of development, from birth to postsecondary education and beyond. The state-specific profile includes data indicators aligned with the five tenets of ASCD’s Whole Child Initiative—ensuring each child is healthy, safe, engaged, supported, and challenged—in a single, easy-to-understand resource for educators, policymakers, and the general public.

To view the full profile, visit www.ascd.org/rhodeislandwholechildprofile.

The information presented in the Rhode Island profile enables state leaders and citizens to identify opportunities and priorities for improving the health and educational achievement of Rhode Island students; spur collaboration and coordination beyond school doors; promote a broader perspective of education reform that focuses on sustainable efforts to prepare the state’s students for college, career, and citizenship success; and measure Rhode Island’s progress in supporting the full potential of its students.

Some notable data highlights from the Rhode Island profile include

  • Fifteen percent of high school students are overweight, and 11 percent are obese.
  • Nineteen percent of high school students were bullied at school in the past year and 15 percent were victims of cyberbullying.
  • Sixty-three percent of middle schoolers and 57 percent of high schoolers agree or strongly agree that their teachers keep them interested in class.
  • Fifty-four percent of children ages 5 and below had family members read to them every day during the previous week.
  • Seventy-five percent of high school students agree or strongly agree that their classes are preparing them for college; 62 percent believe their classes are preparing them for a career.

“The whole child framework is intuitive to educators, because it recognizes that the needs of children extend beyond the school walls,” said Betty Brito, RIASCD Executive Director. “Addressing those needs requires involvement of a broad group of stakeholders. It requires educating policymakers and community partners of its intent. RIASCD is working to operationalize the language of the whole child to demonstrate what this comprehensive educational plan looks like in practice. The Rhode Island Profile, a collaboration between ASCD and RIASCD, is a key tool that can be used in this educational process.” 

 Rhode Island’s leaders understand that fully preparing the state’s students for college, careers, and citizenship requires a more comprehensive and collaborative approach. In May 2013, the Rhode Island General Assembly passed a joint resolution that affirmed support for a whole child approach to education. In addition, the state annually surveys students, parents, and educators as part of a coordinated effort to improve its education system and help all stakeholders assume bigger roles in supporting Rhode Island schools.

Rhode Island ASCD, a community of educators dedicated to ongoing professional learning, has been the leading voice for whole child education in the state. The Rhode Island Whole Child Profile builds on the organization’s previous policy report (PDF) that examines how well the state’s regulations and policies support the whole child. In addition, its Whole Child Recognition Program highlights schools that demonstrate a commitment to the whole child approach.

“The Rhode Island Whole Child Profile pulls together important data from the R.I. Department of Education and from other sources to present a wide-ranging and thoughtful overview of the health, safety, and academic success of our children,” said Deborah A. Gist, R.I. Commissioner of Elementary and Secondary Education. Among the many statistical reports available about Rhode Island children, the ACSD Whole Child Profile stands out because of its clear and concise focus on “why it matters” and on “what you can do” to improve the well-being of Rhode Island youth. I thank Rhode Island ACSD and ASCD for its work in preparing and disseminating the Whole Child Profile, and I know that the material in this report will guide us as we work to keep our children healthy, safe, and engaged in school and in the community.”

ASCD continues to help educators and policymakers implement the whole child approach through efforts including the Whole School, Whole Community, Whole Child Model and the ASCD Whole Child Snapshots. The new whole child model combines and builds on elements of the traditional coordinated school health approach and the whole child framework to create a strengthened, unified, and collaborative approach to learning and health. The recently released Whole Child Snapshots highlight how well each state—and the nation—are meeting the needs of its children.

To view the full Rhode Island profile, visit www.ascd.org/rhodeislandwholechildprofile. To learn more about ASCD’s Whole Child Initiative, visit www.wholechildeducation.org. For more information about ASCD’s 2014 public policy priorities, visit www.ascd.org/policy. To learn more about ASCD’s other programs, products, services, or to join ASCD, visit www.ascd.org.   


New Whole Child Publication: The Korean Educational Development Institute’s KEDI Journal of Educational Policy publishes scholarly articles and reports on research that makes significant contributions to the understanding and practice of educational policy on an international level. This month’s special issue,  Promoting Students’ Social-Emotional and Character Development and Prevent Bullying,” includes an article written by ASCD’s Sean Slade, director of whole child programs, and David Griffith, director of public policy. The article, titled “A Whole Child Approach to Student Success” (pp. 21-35), describes the whole child approach to education and its global education policy recommendations.

 In early April 2013, the Whole Child resolution was passed by the Rhode Island state representatives and has been adopted by the Rhode Island ASCD as a best practice.  Read a summary of the resolution.