ASCD’s Whole Child Network


In 2007 ASCD launched its Whole Child Initiative to ensure that each child, in each school, and in each community is healthy, safe, engaged, supported, and challenged. The ASCD Whole Child approach changed the definition of a successful student to one who is knowledgeable, emotionally and physically healthy, civically inspired, engaged in the arts, prepared for work and economic self-sufficiency, and ready for the world beyond formal schooling.


ASCD now announces its Whole Child Network (WCN) to help schools—their teachers, families, and students—work in unison with their communities, and with other schools across the globe, in implementing and advancing a Whole Child approach to education.

Why Join the Network?

By joining ASCD's Whole Child Network of Schools, you will join a global network of schools focused on the same goals; engaged in the same processes; and with whose educators you can discuss issues, share insights, and exchange support. In addition, you will be able to use ASCD's Whole Child framework—its resources, professional learning tools and activities, and expertise in learning, teaching, and leading.


Students' physical, mental, social, emotional, and cognitive development are intertwined. By addressing each of these vital aspects of child and youth development, implementing a Whole Child approach can result in improved student achievement, health, attendance, behavior, social and emotional development, sense of connectedness, and respect for student voice.


When a school joins the Whole Child Network, it receives the supports it needs to systemically and sustainably operationalize a Whole Child approach. These supports include a school needs assessment, personalized results and resources, coaching, award-winning online professional development resources, and peer-to-peer collaboration through virtual and face-to-face networking experiences.



The WCN is based on ASCD's decade-long commitment to a Whole Child approach to education. Launched in 2007 out of the Whole Child Commission and its landmark release of The Learning Compact Redefined: A Call to Action, ASCD's Whole Child Initiative developed a framework of five tenets, each with 10 indicators. Since then, ASCD has been changing the conversation about what a successful student, school, and education really are. We have been moving public opinion away from a one-size-fits-all, test-based approach to education and toward a Whole Child approach that addresses each student's physical, social-emotional, and cognitive growth and well-being.



Using this framework—mission, tenets, and indicators—along with ASCD professional learning services and resources, ASCD conducted a study to gauge the effect of a Whole Child approach to education.


The results from ASCD's three-year Whole Child Network of Schools Pilot Study (2012–15), conducted by the American Institutes of Research, highlighted the positive outcomes schools saw when they adopted a systematic, guided approach to Whole Child implementation. The 10 schools that participated in the pilot study took the school needs assessment, worked with an ASCD coach to design a school improvement plan based on the five Whole Child Tenets, and participated in an array of professional development customized to their greatest areas of need. These schools demonstrated long-term sustainable changes to the schools' education philosophy and climate, and they developed specific programs and activities that created a holistic, attentive, and responsive environment in which children, families, and teachers feel healthy, safe, engaged, supported, and challenged.


Specifically, at the end of the pilot study, schools reported positive effects of the ASCD Whole Child approach on their progress across each of the five tenets; an improvement in attendance rates; a decrease in suspension rates; and, in secondary schools, a decrease in disciplinary rates. In addition, the study found an increase in reported levels of involvement of instructional staff, as well as a reported increase in students feeling safe, supported, and engaged. Parents reported greater involvement with the school and an increase in their assessment of student health.


Network Benefits

Schools that join the network receive the following benefits:


·       The School Improvement Tool (SiTool): A school needs assessment based on the Whole Child framework. Although the SiTool offers the public the opportunity to receive a Whole Child report by tenets, schools inside the WCN will received a detailed report down to the indicator level, highlighting key areas of their school where they are doing well and other areas that need additional supports. In addition, each school will receive personalized recommended resources and activities to help them grow their Whole Child approach. The SiTool also serves as the tool for tracking and gauging progress.

·       The WCN Continuum: A framework of 150 benchmarks aligned to each Whole Child Tenet and Indicator that specifies targets to aim for, spread across three levels from beginning through mastery. Each benchmark is also linked to discrete professional development activities and examples of school and classroom activities and is delineated by grade levels (PreK–2, 3–5, 6-–8, and 9–12). The WCN Continuum also provides examples of evidence for each benchmark, links to relevant student voice data, and sample activities in the classroom and school by tenet and indicator.

·       Action Plan: A framework focused on specific Whole Child indicators that schools use to address problems of practice.

·       Personalized Coaching: ASCD coaches provide personalized support for schools as they identify a problem of practice, find ASCD professional learning resources aligned to their problem of practice, complete and implement their action plans, and move along the WCN Continuum.

·       Networking Experiences: Through the Whole Child Network online portal and at ASCD's three conferences—Empower, the Conference on Teaching Excellence, and the Conference for Educational Leadership—schools will have the opportunity to meet other schools addressing similar problems of practices and share best practices in implementing a Whole Child approach.

·       Certification: Schools can elect to apply for ASCD Whole Child School Certification at three levels: Whole Child Implementer School, Whole Child Ambassador School, and Whole Child School of Distinction. Schools that successfully receive certification submit evidence of 1) achievement of at least five benchmarks per tenet (a total of 25 benchmarks) within the level they are seeking certification in on the WCN Continuum, 2) annual use of the ASCD School Improvement Tool (SiTool), 3) consultation with a Whole Child coach after receiving the SiTool results, 4) completion of an action plan, and 5) evidence of planning for or implementing professional learning across all five tenets. As schools work towards certification, they also have the option of earning a badge for each of the five tenets, which requires evidence of achieving seven benchmarks for individual tenets.

·       ASCD Activate: WCN schools have automatic access into ASCD Activate. ASCD Activate is a compilation of award-wining online resources, including the PD In Focus® platform, PD Online® courses, Educational Leadership® magazine, and more, tagged back to Whole Child tenets and indicators.


Network Fees

Costs for a school to join the network are $XXXX per year.

Schools can sign up at any time and maintain their membership for 12 months.

Additional fees can apply for ASCD Professional Learning Services that schools may request.