Safe, Supportive Environments
Students learn best in safe, supportive learning environments that address their academic, physical, emotional and mental well-being. Promoting a positive school climate, in which students feel engaged, safe, and connected is key to fostering these conditions for learning and promoting positive mental health. Efforts to create positive school climates support all students in a school and include building social-emotional skills, developing trauma-sensitive practices and policies, and establishing school connectedness among students and staff. Schools with a positive school climate have reduced behavior problems, higher attendance, and improved academic achievement.
Federal and state policies–such as the Every Student Succeeds Act–can provide funding to support schools and districts in establishing safe, supportive learning environments–for example, financing professional development on trauma-sensitive practices.
This case study highlights Tennessee’s work to leverage the nation’s education law, the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA), to support the critical connection between health and learning. Tennessee’s inclusion of health and wellness in its ESSA plan and the guidance developed to support district-level implementation provide best practices and lessons learned for states striving to support student health and wellness through education policy and practice.
Sandra Williamson, American Institutes for Research; Anne Mathews-Younes, Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration; Valerie Sims Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Division of Adolescent and School Health; Sarah Lee, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Healthy Schools Branch
Eric Rossen, National Association of School Psychologists; Amy Edwards, Virginia Department of Education; Mike Leathead, Michigan Department of Education
Kirsten Beronio, Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services
This guidance is based on scientific literature and expert input about what is most likely to be effective in reducing risk for HIV infection and other STDs among adolescents and is intended for use by funded local education agencies and organizations.
APHA’s Center for School, Health and Education’s Program to Improve Graduation applies a public health and socio-ecological framework to strengthen the capacity of schools to remove barriers to healthy outcomes and learning. The report focuses on the program's journey to prevent dropout and advance population health and equity with schools across the country.