State Education Policy that Supports Student Health and Wellness | image of a smiling student

State Education Policy that Supports Student Health and Wellness

August 2019

The link between health and learning is clear: healthy, active and well-nourished children are more likely to attend school, be ready to learn and stay engaged in class. Yet far too many students—particularly low income students and students of color—spend their days in buildings with unhealthy air, have limited opportunities for physical activity, and have inadequate access to fresh water, nutritious food or a school nurse. These same students often come to school suffering the impact of food insecurity and childhood trauma, and with one or more health problems that hinder their ability to learn.

The Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA), the education law passed in 2015, highlights the importance of equitable access to quality education and the conditions that support student learning, and provides new opportunities for schools to support student success by improving student health and wellbeing.

This document describes key sections of the law with the highest potential to impact student health, outlines current state efforts, highlights best practices and provides recommendations for advancing this work at the state and local level.

Education Policy Components to Support Student Health and Wellness

Healthy Schools Campaign has highlighted six elements of state education policy and practice that can be leveraged to promote student health and wellness. The sections below consider key opportunities associated with these elements, and highlight promising best practices and success stories. You can download each section individually or download the full report.

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