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Whole School, Whole Community, Whole Child Model

This is an excerpt from Health and Physical Education for Elementary Classroom Teachers 2nd Edition With HKPropel Access by Retta R. Evans & Sandra Kay Sims.

To more adequately prepare students for the challenges and opportunities of today, the ASCD launched its “whole child” initiative. This initiative was part of an effort to change the conversation about education from a narrow focus on academic achievement to a more holistic approach promoting long-term development and success of children. As a result of the “whole child” initiative, ASCD partnered with the CDC to develop a model for improving student learning and health in U.S. schools. The Whole School, Whole Community, Whole Child (WSCC) model combines elements of the traditional coordinated school health approach with ASCD’s whole child framework, aiming to provide students with improved knowledge, attitudes, and behaviors related to health and increased educational and social outcomes. The whole child framework focuses attention on the child with a schoolwide collaborative approach, ensuring that each student is healthy, safe, supported, engaged, challenged, and poised for success (ASCD, 2020). Learning and health are interrelated and students are active participants in both.

The WSCC model (figure 3.2) provides a framework for integration and collaboration between education and health in order to improve student cognitive, physical, social, and emotional development. When reviewing the WSCC model, notice that the child is in the center of the figure, surrounded by the tenets of the whole child initiative, whereby students are safe, engaged, supported, challenged, and healthy. The school surrounds the child, acting as the framework that provides the needed policies, practices, and systems for each child’s learning and healthy development. The community resides on the outer edges of the model because, although the school acts as the framework, school is a reflection of the community and requires input, resources, and collaboration from the community.

Figure 3.2 The Whole School, Whole Community, Whole Child (WSCC) model.
Figure 3.2 The Whole School, Whole Community, Whole Child (WSCC) model. Reprinted from ASCD (2020).

Whereas the traditional coordinated school health model contained 8 components, the WSCC contains 10. Healthy and safe school environment has been broken into two distinct components: social and emotional climate and physical environment. In addition, family and community involvement has been separated into the categories of family engagement and community involvement. These changes highlight the importance of both the school’s physical and psychosocial environments and the influence of community and family support on the healthy development and academic success of students. See table 3.1 for examples of how to use the 10 components of the WSCC model to develop school health strategies.

Table 3.1 Sample School Health Strategies Across the WSCC Model

As you have learned, substantial evidence demonstrates the link between the health of students and academic achievement. While this link may be intuitive to many teachers and other education leaders who see the effects of today’s nonacademic barriers to learning every day, there is often a disconnect when it comes to accountability measures and incorporating these into an SIP. Now, the components of the WSCC model can be incorporated into a school system’s SIP to measure the elements researchers know affect learning outcomes. The following sections take a closer look at each of the 10 WSCC components.

Health Education

As you have read in previous chapters, healthy students are better learners, and academic achievement bears a lifetime of benefits for health. However, youth risk behaviors, such as physical inactivity, unhealthy diet, tobacco use, alcohol use, and use of other drugs are consistently linked to poor grades and test scores and lower educational attainment. A consistent curriculum of health education in the school setting can protect against these health risks. Health education is defined as a structured combination of planned learning experiences that provide the opportunity to acquire information and the skills students need to make appropriate health decisions. These experiences provide students with opportunities to acquire the knowledge, attitudes, and skills needed to make health-promoting decisions, achieve health literacy, and adopt health-enhancing behaviors. Topics commonly covered in a health education curricula include alcohol and other drug use and abuse, healthy eating and nutrition, mental and emotional health, personal health and wellness, physical activity, safety and injury prevention, sexual health, tobacco use, and violence prevention.

Consistent with best practices outlined in the education literature, a national joint committee of health professionals published the National Health Education Standards (NHES). Figure 3.3 lists all eight standards. These written indicators were developed to establish, promote, and support health-enhancing behaviors for students at all grade levels—from prekindergarten through grade 12. The standards provide a framework for teachers, administrators, and policymakers in designing or selecting curricula, allocating instructional resources, and assessing student achievement and progress. The standards provide students, families, and communities with concrete expectations for health education, which is an important factor in their implementation and success. You will read more about health education, its importance in a well-rounded education, and strategies for incorporating the content into your curriculum in chapter 4.


Figure 3.3 National Health Education Standards

Standard 1 Students will comprehend concepts related to health promotion and disease prevention to enhance health.
Standard 2 Students will analyze the influence of family, peers, culture, media, technology, and other factors on health behaviors.
Standard 3 Students will demonstrate the ability to access valid information, products, and services to enhance health.
Standard 4 Students will demonstrate the ability to use interpersonal communication skills to enhance health and avoid or reduce health risks.
Standard 5 Students will demonstrate the ability to use decision-making skills to enhance health.
Standard 6 Students will demonstrate the ability to use goal-setting skills to enhance health.
Standard 7 Students will demonstrate the ability to practice health-enhancing behaviors and avoid or reduce health risks.
Standard 8 Students will demonstrate the ability to advocate for personal, family, and community health.

National Health Education Standards reprinted by the permission of the American Cancer Society, Inc. All rights reserved


A variety of barriers contribute to a lack of quality health instruction at the elementary level. These barriers include minimal teacher preparation program requirements in health, lack of health education topics on standardized student tests, absence of administrative support for health instruction, and little or no teacher in-service training related to health. School administrators and teachers are held accountable for academic achievement but not for health. As a result, when it comes to allocating instructional time and resources in schools, academics frequently take priority over health. However, with the passage of ESSA in 2015, more federal funding can now be used for school health programs. Additionally, because school health and physical education are now identified as part of a student’s well-rounded education, it is more likely that school district administrators will put forth more effort to effectively integrate school health initiatives.

Physical Education and Physical Activity

Regular physical activity has been shown to improve oxygen circulation to the brain, increase bone and muscle density, and promote a greater tolerance to stress. Unlike children a few decades ago, children today lead increasingly sedentary lives that involve time spent on computers, handheld devices, and watching TV. This often means that school physical education may be one of the few opportunities children may have to engage in physical activity. Physical education is a school-based instructional curriculum in which students gain the necessary skills and knowledge for lifelong participation in physical activity. Physical education is characterized by a planned, sequential K-12 curriculum that provides cognitive content and learning experiences in a variety of activity areas. Effective physical education programs should assist students in achieving the National Standards for K-12 Physical Education (figure 3.4), as set forth by SHAPE America – Society of Health and Physical Educators. The outcome of an effective physical education program is a physically literate person who has the knowledge, skills, and confidence to enjoy a lifetime of healthful physical activity. You will read more about physical education and its importance in academic success in chapter 5. You will also learn essential strategies for incorporating physical activity and brain breaks into the school day in chapters 7 and 9.


Figure 3.4 National Standards for K-12 Physical Education

Standard 1 The physically literate individual demonstrates competency in a variety of motor skills and movement patterns.
Standard 2 The physically literate individual applies knowledge of concepts, principles, strategies and tactics related to movement and performance.
Standard 3 The physically literate individual demonstrates the knowledge and skills to achieve and maintain a health-enhancing level of physical activity and fitness.
Standard 4 The physically literate individual exhibits responsible personal and social behavior that respects self and others.
Standard 5 The physically literate individual recognizes the value of physical activity for health, enjoyment, challenge, self-expression, and/or social interaction.

Reprinted by permission from SHAPE America, National Standards & Grade-Level Outcomes for K-12 Physical Education (Champaign, IL: Human Kinetics, 2014), 28.

More Excerpts From Health and Physical Education for Elementary Classroom Teachers 2nd Edition With HKPropel Access