One of the three purposes of the Student Support and Academic Enrichment (SSAE) program is to improve school conditions as a means of improving academic achievement. Ensuring all students are healthy and feel safe and supported is central to the shared work across programs in the Every Student Succeeds Act of 2015 (ESSA).
The term ‘‘safe and healthy” refers to a school environment that fosters a safe and supportive environment for learning, student physical and mental health, and any other activities that cut across both those areas as determined by the State or local educational agency, with the purpose of providing all students access to safe and healthy educational experience. A safe and healthy school environment may be described as a “positive school climate”, and the components of a positive school climate as “conditions for learning”. You can read more about school climate and conditions for learning on our School Climate webpage.
The premise of safe and healthy students is that if schools want students to succeed academically (and in life), the conditions for learning must reflect that goal. Research shows that when schools and districts effectively focus on creating a safe, healthy, and supportive environment (positive school climate), students are more likely to engage in the curriculum, achieve academically, and develop positive relationships; students are less likely to exhibit problem behaviors; and teacher turnover is lower and teacher satisfaction is higher.
The SSAE guidance offers many examples of how educational stakeholders can promote student health and safety in three key areas. Below is a table identifying examples of strategies that fall under each of the three areas:
Safe and Supportive Schools
Student Physical and Mental Health
U.S. Department of Education | Office for Civil Rights | April 2018
School Climate and Safety Issue Brief. 2015-16 Civil Rights Data Collection highlights on school climate and safety factors in the educational environment.
SAMHSA | June 2018
Addressing the Risk of Violent Behavior in Youth: Know the Signs of Youth Violence and How to Identify and Reduce Risk in Schools. PowerPoint presentation materials school leaders can use to inform, and help classroom teachers, counselors and other staff understand the basic facts about youth violence.
Asthma Management in Schools
- Environmental Protection Agency offers valuable information for all school staff, especially school nurses, teachers and maintenance staff, on how to identify and control common environmental factors in schools that may trigger asthma episodes. Download the Managing Asthma in the School Environment document to learn how you can help control asthma at your school and boost student performance.
Bullying and Harassment Prevention
- StopBullying.gov provides information from various government agencies on what bullying is, what cyberbullying is, who is at risk, and how to prevent and respond to bullying.
Drug and Violence Prevention
- Youth.gov is a Federal website related to creating, maintaining, and strengthening effective youth programs. Included are facts, funding information, and tools to assess community assets, generate maps of local and Federal resources, and search for evidence-based youth programs.
- CDC Healthy Schools is a Federal website with numerous resources to assist school districts and schools in creating healthy learning environments, including information related to nutrition, physical activity, obesity prevention, and the management of chronic conditions. There are also professional development and training materials for school personnel.
- National Cancer Institute’s Research-tested Intervention Programs (RTIPs) is a database that contains information on evidence-based cancer control interventions and program materials. Users may search for interventions that are implemented in school and focus on nutrition, obesity, or physical activity.
- U.S. Department of Education Fact Sheet contains information and resources related to human trafficking.
Indoor-Air Quality (IAQ)
- EPA’s Indoor Air Quality Tools for Schools Action Kit guides schools and districts with reducing exposure to indoor environmental contaminants in schools through voluntary adoption of sound and effective IAQ management practices. The Action Kit provides best practices, industry guidelines, sample policies and IAQ management plans for improving indoor air problems at little or no cost using straightforward activities and in-house staff.
Positive Behavioral Interventions and Supports
- Technical Assistance Center on Positive Behavioral Interventions and Supports (PBIS) was established by the U.S. Department of Education to define, develop, implement, and evaluate a multi-tiered approach to technical assistance that improves the capacity of States, districts, and schools to establish, scale-up, and sustain the PBIS framework. Emphasis is given to the impact of implementing PBIS on the social, emotional and academic outcomes for students with disabilities.
Re-entry Programs and Transition Services
- Virginia’s Department of Justice sponsors a program to provide regional Reentry Advocates to help create a seamless reentry process, connect youth to employment and vocational services and to link youth and families with services in the community. Reentry Advocates partner with local government agencies, local school districts and community stakeholders to connect youth and their families with benefits and resources, employability services and skills training and to connect them with positive adult role models.
- U.S. Department of Education Fact Sheet contains information and resources related to relationship-building skills.
- Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention’s Model Programs Guide includes information on evidence-based juvenile justice and youth prevention and intervention programs that cover topics such as bullying, discipline, school climate, school safety, school violence, and truancy.
- U.S. Department of Education Policy, Guidance, and Resources for School Climate and Discipline presents tools, data, and resources to: (a) increase awareness of the prevalence, impact, and legal implications of suspension and expulsion; (b) find basic information and resources on effective alternatives; and (c) join a national conversation on how to effectively create positive school climates.
School-Based Mental Health Services
- Center for School Mental Health strengthens policies and programs in school mental health to improve learning and promote success for America's youth. CSMH advances evidence-based care in schools and collaborates at local, State, national, and international levels to advance research, training, policy, and practice in school mental health.
- SAMHSA’s National Registry of Evidence-based Programs and Practices (NREPP) is a registry of substance abuse and mental health interventions. Users may search for interventions that are implemented in a school or classroom.
- U.S. Department of Education Fact Sheet contains information and resources related to suicide prevention.
- The National Action Alliance for Suicide Prevention is a public-private partnership charged with advancing the National Strategy for Suicide Prevention.
Products and Tools
- School Climate Improvement Resource Package. This resource package is designed to help schools and districts improve school climate. It will include a variety of resources to meet a range of needs among stakeholders interested in improving school climate.
- ED School Climate Surveys (EDSCLS). This surveying tool allows States, local districts, and schools to collect and act on reliable, nationally-validated school climate data in real-time. The EDSCLS builds on federal initiatives and research, which recommended that the Department work on the issue of school climate. The surveying tool is free of charge and can be downloaded on the NCSSLE website.
- School Climate. This webpage defines school climate and discusses its impact on student learning. The webpage also provides more information on NCSSLE's role in promoting positive school climate through technical assistance and product development.
- Engagement. This webpage defines engagement and discusses its impact on student learning and overall school climate. The page provides relevant resource and research.
- Environment. This webpage defines environment and discusses its impact on student learning and overall school climate. The page provides relevant resource and research.
- Safety. This webpage defines safety and discusses its impact on student learning and overall school climate. The page provides relevant resource and research.