School Mental Health Project

Whole School, Whole Community, Whole Child –
The Implementation Problem
At the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), thinking about helping students is moving forward. The agency has expanded and updated its Coordinated School Health (CSH) approach into a “Whole School, Whole Community, Whole Child (WSCC) model” and are working with ASCD and others to highlight it. They state: “The WSCC incorporates the components of CSH and the tenets of the ASCD’s whole child approach to strengthen a unified and collaborative approach to learning and health. The WSCC model focuses its attention on the child, emphasizes a school-wide approach, and acknowledges learning, health, and the school as being a part and reflection of the local community.”

Nice to see the emphasis on a unified and collaborative approach.

Of course, all this raises the many problems of implementation. The whole field of implementation science is just opening up, and the emphasis on unifying efforts to promote healthy development and address barriers to learning, development, teaching, and parenting provides an opportunity to advance ways to implement and go-to-scale in sustainable ways.

While the emphasis in the 2015 National Initiative for Transforming Student and Learning Supports* encompasses whole school, whole community, and whole child, it provides a different intervention framework and stresses that effective system transformation will require
  1. expanding current school improvement policy from a two to a three component framework so that the agenda is no longer marginalized (this includes expanding the framework for school accountability and developing related standards).

  2. designing and developing a unified, comprehensive, and equitable classroom and schoolwide intervention framework that weaves together school and community efforts to promote healthy development and address barriers to learning, development, teaching, and parenting,

  3. reworking existing operational infrastructure to first unify intervention activity and then, over a period of several years, develop a comprehensive and equitable approach,

  4. facilitating system transformation (including the problems of going to scale in substantive ways and sustaining effective changes).

We have spelled much of this out in Transforming Student and Learning Supports: Developing a Unified, Comprehensive, and Equitable System –  , and we urge CDC, ASCD, and others to do similar work in clarifying how to address implementation. Join us in getting this transformative approach out and discussed.

*The goal of the 2015 National Initiative for Transforming Student and Learning Supports
( ) is to guide every school toward unifying and then developing a comprehensive and equitable system for addressing barriers to learning and teaching and re-engaging disconnected students. This requires fully implanting a unified learning supports component into school improvement policy and planning. The point is to enhance equity of opportunity for all students to succeed at school and beyond and foster the type of climate that makes schools the heart of their community.

Equity of opportunity is fundamental to enabling civil rights;
transforming student and learning supports is fundamental to
enabling equity of opportunity and promoting whole child development.

As you share your thoughts about all this, we will share them in ways that perhaps can help end the marginalization of efforts to transform student and learning supports.

We look forward to receiving your comments.

Send them to for posting.

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