Whole School, Whole Community, Whole Child: Where Are We?



wsccmodel-largeIt’s been almost a year since ASCD and the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) released the next evolution of the coordinated school health model. The Whole School, Whole Community, Whole Child model, or WSCC as it has become known, was released jointly in March 2014 at the ASCD Annual Conference in Los Angeles and the Society for Public Health Education (SOPHE) Annual Conference in Baltimore. The model was designed to better align the key sectors of education and health and better serve children.

The model was released along with a summary backgrounder (PDF) that explains why we and other experts in the education and health fields believe this is an integration that has to happen and will only benefit learning.

Health and education affect individuals, society, and the economy and, as such, must work together whenever possible. Schools are a perfect setting for this collaboration. Schools are one of the most efficient systems for reaching children and youth to provide health services and programs, as approximately 95 percent of all U.S. children and youth attend school. At the same time, integrating health services and programs more deeply into the day-to-day life of schools and students represents an untapped tool for raising academic achievement and improving learning. (p.3)

ASCD and the CDC intentionally did not include guidelines on how the model should be implemented and utilized by states, districts, and schools for two reasons:

  1. Mind-set—By releasing the model, we believe that we are cultivating conversations and allowing people from both sectors who work with children to see where and how they fit according to their own unique perspectives. We are purposefully attempting to change mind-sets.
  2. Autonomy—Along with adjusting people’s mind-sets, the model allows for each person to take ownership of the framework. By not providing a cookie-cutter approach to implementation, onus is placed back onto each school and district.

Where Are We Now?

Several states, such as Alaska and Mississippi, have already adopted the new model, and it has been a focal point of ongoing discussions between the sectors in Kentucky, Missouri, Nebraska, Ohio, and Oregon. The model has also been written into district policy by numerous schools districts, including the following:

  • Buffalo Public Schools and Cortland City School District (New York)
  • Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools (North Carolina)
  • Denver Public Schools, Adams County School District 12, Poudre School District, and Woodland Park School District (Colorado)
  • Pasadena Independent School District and Fort Worth Independent School District (Texas)
  • Ottawa Area Intermediate School District (Michigan)
  • Orange County Schools (California)

Your school and district can take the free ASCD School Improvement Tool needs assessment using the whole child tenets and indicators. The tool cross-references your results to components of effective school improvement (school climate and culture; curriculum and instruction; leadership; assessment; family and community engagement; and staff capacity and professional development) and the WSCC school health component areas:

  • Health education
  • Physical education and physical activity
  • Nutrition environment and services
  • Health services
  • Counseling, psychosocial, and social services
  • Social and emotional climate
  • Physical environment
  • Employee wellness
  • Family engagement
  • Community involvement
  • Policy, process, and practice

What’s Planned for 2015?

Much is in the works. ASCD is now offering professional development, as are other key school health organizations, including Action for Healthy Kids, Rocky Mountain Center, CATCH, and SPARK. Human Kinetics just released a publication titled Promoting Health and Academic Success that directly focuses on the WSCC model.

The CDC is planning for the release of a Virtual Healthy School site later this school year and the Journal of School Health will publish a special issue focused the model and its rationale and use.

Find out why principals, teachers, and students should be concerned about health and learn how to start a conversation between the education and school health sectors through two special episodes of the Whole Child Podcast.Go to www.ascd.org/learningandhealth to learn more, request materials, and get started.