Research and Support

  • A new brief produced by Child Trends and EMT Associates analyzes statutes and regulations passed since 1999, finding that many recommendations developed by the Federal School Safety Commission in response to the 2018 Parkland shooting are already addressed in state policy. The data show that, following high-profile incidents of school shootings, state policies have primarily focused on preparing for, not preventing, school shootings.
  • A report from the American Public Health Association (APHA)—Integrating Public Health in Schools to Improve Graduation—describes the implementation and impact of APHA’s work to remove schoolwide barriers to student health and learning.
  • A new study of student perceptions of active shooter drills found that experiencing an active shooter drill in high school was associated with higher levels of student fear and perceived risk, and lower levels of perceived school safety. Because the study used a convenience sample, these findings may primarily reflect the views of students with strong opinions about active shooter drills.  
  • The State Policy Database on School Health contains policies that cover nearly 200 healthy schools topics, including everything from nutrition policy to school discipline to employee wellness. To prepare for a Fall 2020 update, the National Association of State Boards of Education and Child Trends are asking stakeholders to take a brief survey to indicate what features of the database should be improved or changed.

Policy Update

  • Several states—including Mississippi (HB237), Alaska (HB181), and Rhode Island (H7048)—introduced legislation in January that would require public schools to develop health education guidelines and instructional materials that include topics related to mental health.
  • Washington (HB1407) legislators re-introduced a bill to require public schools to provide comprehensive, evidence-informed, age-appropriate, and inclusive sexual health education.
  • Oregon (HB4127) has proposed including instruction on oral and dental health as part of health education curricula for students in kindergarten through grade 12.
  • Legislators in New Jersey (A454) have proposed requiring school districts to include information on the dangers of texting while driving in health and physical education curricula for high school students.

Featured Data Point

According to a new study from the National Center for Homeless Education, 16 states experienced an increase of at least 10 percent in their homeless student populations from school years 2015-16 to 2017-18. Children and youth experiencing homelessness often need more support from schools due to family disruption, difficulties accessing food, trauma, and illness.
Source: National Center for Homeless Education. (2020). “Federal Data Summary School Years 2015-16 through 2017-18.” Brown’s Summit, NC: National Center for Homeless Education.
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