What is the Role of Public Schools in Helping Children Succeed in and Out of School?

From 1999 to 2000, the National Association of State Boards of Education, Alexandria, Va., studied the roles and responsibilities of public schools in addressing health and related social problems confronting today's children and youth.

Many educators believe that they are compelled to intervene in the health and social environment affecting students, their families, and the community, even as a strong "back-to-basics" reform movement denies any role for schools outside of academics.

Key Results

  • The National Association of State Boards of Education—which represents state boards of education nationwide—formed a 16-member study group (including 15 members of state boards of education) to conduct the study, which included three formal meetings and the preparation and dissemination of a project report.

  • In its final report, entitled The Future Is Now: Addressing Social Issues in Schools of the 21st Century, the study group concluded that:

    • Schools have an important role to play in addressing the needs of students by helping them succeed academically and by supporting the growth that will enable them to lead successful, productive adult lives. The question is not whether schools should address nonacademic barriers to learning, but instead, what can schools do both alone and with others to support learning?


  • As of November 2000, the National Association of State Boards of Education had distributed or sold approximately 1,300 copies of the report, including 750 copies to members of state boards of education and 100 to state departments of education across the country.