With everything that has happened over the past year, the impact of a student’s mental health on their ability to achieve academically is becoming more widely understood, accepted, and addressed. In order for students to achieve at their greatest potential, they must be educated in a safe and emotionally healthy environment. When people think about education they often think of reading, math, and science. However, the more we learn about brain development, mental health, and trauma, the more we know that understanding and addressing changes in student wellbeing is just as important, if not more, than academic rigor.

In 2017, KConnect’s network identified Student Wellbeing as a key lever to student success, even though there was not a reliable way of measuring it in Kent County at the time. Thanks to the work of the Kent Intermediate Superintendent Association (KISA), we are on the verge of having a common assessment across the county. Most importantly, we will have a tool that will measure changes in student wellbeing and allow our partners to deploy targeted resources where they are needed the most. 

At this May’s Accountability Partners Council, representatives from three leading school districts (Godfrey-Lee, East Grand Rapids, and Kent ISD) presented the work they’ve been doing across a pilot group of school districts in Kent County on student wellbeing. Launched in March 2021, the Student Wellbeing survey was given to students in grades 5, 7, 9, and 11. Taking knowledge from the work of Oakland County and the California Core Districts, the survey was designed to measure three distinct categories: social-emotional learning, student engagement, and diversity, equity, and inclusion. Measuring these topics provides a much more holistic view of student experience. 

We know that engaged students are 2.5 times more likely to say that they do well in school, and 4.5 times more likely to be hopeful about the future. Locally, the Michigan Governor Gretchen Whitmer recently declared March 26 “Social Emotional Learning Day” in order to bring attention to the social emotional and mental health needs of young people and the supportive environments that schools can provide to help students feel safe. This growing need in our community must be addressed, which is why we’re looking forward to having this data publicly available and on KConnect’s dashboard. 

Stay tuned for more information about this as it becomes available. For more information on the KISA Student Wellbeing survey, please visit the following links: 

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