Equity & Diversity

Health, Poverty, and Engagement: How States Stack Up on ‘Whole Child’ Issues

By Evie Blad — June 24, 2015 1 min read

Schools increasingly agree that student success is about more than mere academic skill. Educators and policymakers should also address so-called “whole child” indicators like poverty, civic engagement, and emotional factors to give all students a chance to learn, they say.

With that in mind, newly updated “Whole Child Snapshots” from ASCD show how states measure in a range of issues that fall under the organization’s five whole child categories: Healthy, safety, engagement, support, and challenge.

The indicators, taken from a range of federal sources, include household educational attainment levels, student-to-school counselor ratios, graduation rates by race, bullying data, obesity rates, and voting rates of young adults.

“The Whole Child Snapshots are intended to highlight how well children are faring, both in and out of school, in each state,” ASCD Director of Public Policy David Griffith said in a news release. “The nation has mixed results, with some encouraging signs of progress alongside some persistent challenges. We want to work with educators and the public to put in the place the strategies to best meet the comprehensive needs of children.”

While the data have all been previously reported, here are some of the statistics ASCD highlighted:


  • At least 86 percent of students live in a place where the head of household has at least a high school diploma or GED.
  • About 32 percent of children have not had both medical and dental preventative care in the past year, but some states are ahead of others: Massachusetts, for example, has that number down to 21 percent, while South Dakota is at 40 percent.
  • On average, 22 percent of U.S. children live in poverty, but that number masks major disparities among blacks (39 percent), Native Americans (37 percent), and Hispanics (33 percent).

See every state’s snapshot and recommendations for addressing these issues.

A version of this news article first appeared in the Rules for Engagement blog.