February 24, 2022
New Tool Helps State Agencies Collaborate to Support Student Wellbeing

Chiefs for Change, a bipartisan network of school superintendents and state education commissioners, today released a new tool to help state education departments, state health departments, and other state agencies review student wellbeing factors and conduct a comprehensive analysis of the mental health services available to children in their state. As our nation grapples with what experts have called a national emergency in children’s mental health, the tool can help states determine which districts and student populations lack access to needed supports and create strategic plans to meet critical needs.

Known as the System-Level Student Wellbeing Data Review Tool, the resource was produced in partnership with state education systems led by members of Chiefs for Change, as well as distinguished professionals in psychology, public health, and education.

Specifically, the tool includes:

  • 51 state-specific documents that can help state agencies analyze child wellbeing metrics such as diagnoses of mental health conditions, positive wellbeing outcomes such as social skills and self-regulation, and school-based indicators that may be affected by student wellbeing. The documents allow agencies to determine what supports are available in their own states and compare those to supports in other states.
  • Exercises and a roadmap for engaging a broad set of partners to develop a statewide strategy to improve student wellbeing services.
  • Guidance for identifying gaps in programming where emergency Covid-19 relief aid and other sources of federal funding can be used to address students’ needs.
  • District and county-specific data to support localities in analyzing their own wellbeing metrics, comparing it to statewide or national data, and using those insights to develop a district or community wellbeing strategy.

The tool is the latest in a series of resources that Chiefs for Change is producing this year to assist system leaders in assessing and better supporting students’ wellbeing during and after the Covid-19 pandemic. The first such resource, released in January, was designed for school districts.

The resource released today was created for states after the Ohio Department of Education, under the leadership of Chiefs for Change member and former State Superintendent of Public Instruction Paolo DeMaria, said it needed the ability to broadly review data on children’s mental health and other wellbeing indicators to support the creation of a statewide, cross-agency strategic plan in this area.

“The pandemic has severely disrupted every aspect of our education system, and the result is that many, many students have had their academic journey disrupted and are struggling with their mental health,” said DeMaria, who now leads the National Association of State Boards of Education. “At a time when intensive, focused collaboration is especially important in addressing students’ needs, the tool offers a streamlined approach to data analysis and a framework that enabled Ohio’s Department of Education and Department of Mental Health to go from a partnership to a closely aligned team.”

Those two Ohio state agencies used data from the tool to identify gaps, identify links between prevention efforts and academic outcomes, and foster greater district-level understanding of student needs.

In a recent speech, U.S. Secretary of Education Miguel Cardona called on districts to expand and embed mental health and wellbeing supports for students into their day-to-day operations by focusing on wrap-around programs, leveraging community-based partnerships, and increasing the number of counselors and mental health professionals in schools.

Chiefs for Change CEO Mike Magee explained that K-12 systems need customizable tools to meet their unique needs. “As schools shift from reopening to recovery, educators must not only address unfinished learning, but work to understand and support students in a holistic way,” Magee said. “This first-of-its-kind tool offers policymakers the infrastructure to develop inter-agency partnerships and strategies that are right for their states and districts. Chiefs for Change members are truly leading the way when it comes to designing effective, scalable solutions in this challenging time. We are pleased to make this tool and all of our resources available for free to systems around the country.”

The tool is grounded in the 10-point framework developed by The Coalition to Advance Future Student Success, a group of 12 leading education organizations committed to working together to reopen, recover, and rebuild schools. To access the tool, click here.