GLP EducatingtheWholeStudent 920x639
Download full report

Educating the Whole Student


of teachers agree that when schools prioritize whole student learning, students perform better.

Gradient Learning Poll 2022

A Whole Student Approach

A whole student approach to education is defined by policies, practices, and relationships that ensure each student, in each school, in each community, is engaged, supported, and challenged, according to ASCD.

According to the 2020–21 Speak Up Research Project, two-thirds of parents with school-aged children are concerned about their child’s emotional well-being as a result of the COVID driven disruptions in their learning lives. 43% are worried that their child is not learning the right skills in school to be successful in the future.

Many schools are responding to this demand for a broader focus on students’ social and emotional needs as well as the development of future-ready skills by redefining their mission, creating learner or graduate profiles to drive planning and accountability, and through new teacher professional learning programs and initiatives that focus on a whole student approach to education.

A whole student approach to education encourages educators to focus on five key characteristics:

  • Healthy Development (Attachment, Stress Management, Self-Regulation)

  • School Readiness (Self-Awareness, Social Awareness/Relationship Skills, Executive Functions)

  • Mindsets for Self and School (Growth Mindset, Self-Efficacy, Sense of Belonging, Relevance of School)

  • Perseverance (Resilience, Agency, Academic Tenacity)

  • Independence and Sustainability (Self- Direction, Curiosity, Sense of Purpose)

“I like the focus on the whole student. Emotional skills and collaboration are just as important as content for the future of our students.”

High School Teacher, AK

What teachers are saying

According to the Gradient Learning Poll, which surveyed 1,418 educators across the country:

Do schools need to adopt a broader definition of student success to include both academic and non- academic skills?

  • YES88%
  • NO12%

As a result of adopting a whole student approach, are your students taking more ownership of their learning?

  • YES62%
  • NO38%

With a whole student approach, are your students more comfortable asking for help?

  • YES62%
  • NO38%

“Students don’t just come to school to take a test. They come to school to learn, work as a team, and build life skills. There’s no better feeling than knowing you’re meeting the needs of all your students.”

Director of Elementary Learning, CO

Nationwide results

1,418 teachers of Grades 4-12 surveyed

We surveyed 1,418 teachers across the country to better understand their views on the state of education. By measuring teacher sentiment, we’re informing communities across the country about how they can best support educators.

Type of teachers

  • Classroom, 85%
  • Special education, 11%
  • Other, 4%


  • Teach in suburban communities, 42%
  • Teach in urban communities, 28%
  • Teach in rural communities, 30%