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Schools share lessons learned from piloting different approaches to improve student, staff well-being

Education Forward DC
Education Forward DC

Today Education Forward DC, in partnership with Transcend, released Supporting Student and Staff Well-Being: School Pilots in Action, a white paper exploring what four public schools in the District of Columbia learned through piloting different approaches to supporting student and staff mental health and well-being.

Ed Forward DC funded this initiative to support schools in testing evidence-based approaches to improving their school-based mental health programs. Selected schools received direct funding from Ed Forward DC for their pilots and participated in a Community of Practice led by Transcend to support the design and implementation of their pilots. H.D. Cooke Elementary School implemented a Whole Child Lunch Block; Thurgood Marshall Academy Public Charter High School provided clinical mental health support to school staff, Bunker Hill Elementary School implemented Strong Start in Spanish, and Two Rivers Public Charter School provided Adult Crew Experiences for its staff.

Read about the schools’ experiences in the white paper

In addition to the individual lessons learned from piloting these different approaches, the white paper highlights best practices around piloting new initiatives in schools and how to scale a new approach effectively. These insights can help guide other school leaders who may be implementing their own changes.

From data to action

In conversations with educators across DC, Ed Forward DC found that leadership and staff wanted support in understanding what interventions were most effective to address the urgent mental health and well-being challenges that school communities faced in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic.

To begin this work, Ed Forward DC funded early adopter schools to administer the Panorama survey in order to equip them and the District with actionable data on student well-being. The second round of that data—which included results from more than 30,000 students in 16 local educational agencies across DC—was recently released in an analysis by Bellwether, Students Speak:  A 2024 Snapshot of Youth Well-Being in the District of Columbia.

The data collected through the Panorama survey helped school leaders identify the specific needs of their students and tailor the interventions piloted by school leaders this year and explored in the white paper.

Ed Forward DC is excited to see this data collection grow. The Office of the State Superintendent is expected to roll out the Panorama survey to all public schools in DC next year. The data collected will provide a comprehensive picture of student well-being in the District and help more leaders support their school communities.

Going deeper

Ed Forward DC hosted a webinar with Bellwether, Transcend, and school leaders who participated in the pilot to explore the well-being data further and hear directly from schools about their pilots. Watch it below.

Education Forward DC
Education Forward DC

Every DC student deserves to thrive.