Possible futures: The policy changes we need to get there

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“Policies guide how schools and the professionals within them can access and use funding, create learning systems, support students’ needs, and engage in improvement. To ensure developmentally healthy school environments, policy makers should:

  • Provide adequate and equitable funding based on pupil needs to every district and school to support a stable, diverse, well-prepared staff; provide programmatic and curriculum resources; and ensure that all children have what they need to learn effectively. States that have pursued this path, including Massachusetts and New Jersey, are now the highest-performing in the nation and have reduced opportunity and achievement gaps (Darling-Hammond, 2019).
  • Create community schools that organize whole child supports promoting students’ physical and mental health, social welfare, and academic success and ensure regular and authentic family engagement. All adults should focus their work around a shared conception of whole child development within a multitiered system of support, beginning with universal designs for learning and social-emotional supports in every classroom and extending through more intensive, personalized academic and nonacademic assistance provided to students when they need it, without labeling or delays. Well-implemented community school initiatives support improved attendance, achievement, and attainment (Maier et al., 2017) and have created lifelines for children and families during the pandemic.”


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