Healthy School Communities
Healthy school communities are settings in which students, staff, parents, and community members work collaboratively to ensure that each student is emotionally and physically healthy, safe, engaged, supported, and challenged. They are settings in which the school and community engage each other to effectively support the school improvement process. ASCD's work in this area is part of a large, multiyear plan to shift public dialogue about education from a focus on a narrow curriculum-centric and accountability system to a whole child approach that encompasses all factors required for successful student outcomes.
Healthy school communities are an outgrowth of work ASCD began in 1998 to link schools and community public health agencies to provide meaningful opportunities for students to create and participate in activities designed to improve the health of their communities. ASCD's Health in Education Initiative, as it was originally known, focused on promoting systemic approaches to improving the health and well-being of students and staff and creating environments in which high-quality learning and teaching could occur.
In the spring of 2006, ASCD launched the Healthy School Communities program (PDF) and commenced a pilot study of school-community partnerships in the United States and Canada that focused on effective school improvement efforts. The evaluation identified nine levers that catalyzed significant change in the culture of the participating school communities. The most effective sites demonstrated all of these levers to a great extent, with the levers working in concert to support sustainable change.
Read the evaluation report.
The Nine Levers of School Change
- Planning teams should be principal-led.
- Plans should address systemic issues at the school.
- Collaboration should commence from the start of the planning process.
- Planning should align with and be the basis of the overall school improvement process.
- Planning should focus on those aspects revealed by assessment to have the most need.
- Team leadership should aim to build a team to facilitate the process.
- Team leadership should ensure all stakeholders understand the value of their involvement.
- Ongoing purposeful professional development should be integrated to support the process.
- School administration should actively seek out and access community resources.
Principal leadership matters. In fact, the pilot study showed that the role of the principal was the most critical piece of the puzzle in implementing meaningful school change and school improvement. Other elements were crucial—such as an understanding that health improvement supports school improvement, authentic community collaboration, and the ability to make systemic rather than merely programmatic change—but these pieces more often than not arose through the influence and role the principal took in the implementation the healthy school community.
Healthy School Report Card
Successful students are not only knowledgeable but also emotionally and physically healthy, motivated, civically engaged, prepared for work and economic self-sufficiency, and ready for the world beyond their own borders. To help students meet this standard, a school must use a coordinated, evidence-based approach that supports learning, teaching, and student growth—in short, the school must create a healthy school community.
Creating a Healthy School Using the Healthy School Report Card: An ASCD Action Tool and its accompanying online scoring and analysis tool, offers a practical strategy for structuring your school environment to support the development of students who have the knowledge, skills, and abilities to make healthy choices. This research-based tool was developed to help schools engage stakeholders from the school and community in the assessment of their school environment for inclusion in the school improvement process.
Learn about and purchase the U.S. edition.
Learn about and purchase the Canadian edition.
Access the online analysis tool.
Use the Healthy School Report Card to meet required guidelines and identify and prioritize areas for improvement. The data collected can assist ongoing efforts to garner the support of policymakers, family members, and the community. The online scoring tool is available with the purchase of every Creating a Healthy School Using the Healthy School Report Card action tool and enables you to enter report card responses into a database and generate real-time reports for further analysis. The reporting features allow you to
- Generate data to assist with your school improvement planning.
- Compare your school to schools with similar demographics.
- View a trend analysis after completing the report card for two or more consecutive years.
- Obtain a resource listing that offers helpful design strategies for your school’s plan.