2023-2024 Academic Supports and Student and School Staff Well-Being Project

The National Governors Association’s K-12 Education Team is supporting Alabama, Maine, New Hampshire, New York, North Carolina, Oregon, Rhode Island, Vermont, and Wyoming to address student academic needs and student and school staff well-being and mental health in their states.

As reflected in Governors’ 2024 State of the State Addresses, bipartisan Governors across the country are prioritizing student success by addressing student academic needs and student and school staff mental health and well-being in their states.

For academic needs, Governors are working to tackle this challenge with multiple initiatives, including through intensive tutoring, leveraging afterschool and summer learning and enrichment programs, addressing chronic absenteeism, and boosting math and literacy supports. 

Governors are not only looking at student support from an academic lens but also by addressing students’ mental health and well-being given the increased fear, stress, and anxiety that resulted from the pandemic. Governors’ initiatives in this area include a focus on strengthening cross-agency collaboration between education, health, and human services; increasing parent, family, student, and community engagement; ensuring easier access to student and school-based behavioral health supports; and incorporating mental health and well-being as part of comprehensive strategies to address school safety.

This project builds on the work of the 2022 Student and School Staff Well-Being Project, which specifically addressed student and school staff well-being needs during and after the COVID-19 pandemic.

This project is also complementary to a Policy Academy that NGA is currently supporting on youth mental health with six Governors’ offices and that builds off of Governor Phil Murphy of New Jersey’s 2022-23 Chair’s Initiative on Strengthening Youth Mental Health.

Project Snapshots

The following provides a snapshot of Governors’ initiatives as part of the project and their ongoing support for students, schools, and families in these areas:


The Governor’s office is working to address the recommendations made by The Commission on Teaching and Learning, with specific focus in areas of literacy, numeracy, early learning, Turnaround Schools, education finance, and the educator workforce.


The Governor’s office is scaling the implementation of BARR (Building Assets, Reducing Risks) to 71 schools across the state. Focusing on strengthening school relationships has demonstrated significant impacts on student and school staff well-being, academic success and a decrease in chronic absenteeism.

BARR Highlights in Maine:

  • At Brunswick Middle School, the building administration team emphasized that the positive changes in the school are largely due to BARR’s impact on campus.
  • The Dirigo High School attendance rate has improved by 6% from the 2022-2023 school year to now!
  • Wendy Harvey, Co-Principal at Westbrook High School stated, “BARR is one of the key elements that has helped change this building. Our culture has improved, teacher collaboration has improved, our relationships have improved.”
  • Calais Elementary School is implementing BARR with fifth and sixth grade teams. Commissioner Pender Makin visited the sixth grade U-Time Class where students learn about classmates and their teachers to help them understand each other better and learn more about their community.
  • Mt. Blue High School has utilized BARR for five years, helping their ninth graders adjust to school and be successful. School leaders have seen increased attendance, lower failure rates and stronger relationships between educators and students while implementing BARR.

New Hampshire

The Governor’s office is focused on providing well-being supports for students as they move from high school to postsecondary education or the workforce. The state is seeking to bridge the gap between these systems and impact student well-being, mental health, and academic and career success. The Governor’s office will be hosting multiple convenings at postsecondary institutions around the state to bring together college-bound high school seniors, parents and families, and high school educators and counselors to bridge support on and off campus. This work builds on the efforts of Governor Sununu’s School Safety Preparedness Task Force and the Governor’s support for the Jesse Lewis Choose Love Movement program that provides comprehensive student well-being supports across the state.

New York

In the 2024 State of the State Address, Governor Hochul announced the Back to Basics reading initiative to ensure every school district has the supports needed and instruction materials grounded in the Science of Reading. Governor Hochul is ensuring future teachers are prepared to teach the Science of Reading by providing $10 million for teacher training programs.  

North Carolina

The North Carolina Department of Public Instruction and the Division of Child and Family Well-Being within the North Carolina Department of Health and Human services developed the North Carolina School Behavioral Health Action Plan to address the urgent mental health and well-being needs of students. The Governors’ office and North Carlina Department of Public Instruction are working together to address and implement the Action Plan across the state, including through school-based behavioral health supports.


The Oregon Department of Education and the Oregon Department of Health are working together to improve education and well-being through cross-agency collaboration and creating a metrics systems for shared accountability for student mental health and well-being across the departments.

Rhode Island

The Governor’s office is addressing chronic absenteeism through the #AttendanceMattersRI campaign to help students attend school each day. Governor McKee, Always Learning Rhode Island and the Rhode Island Department of Education held a ceremony at WaterFire on May 11th in celebration of the Learn365RI Initiative and the state’s accomplishments on student attendance this year. Check out Governor McKee’s message to the Rhode Island student community here.  


Governor Scott has set a goal to achieve universal afterschool and summer access for all youth statewide by 2025. In order to expand high-quality afterschool and summer programs in Vermont, most recently Governor Scott and the Vermont Agency of Education announced a $3.5 million grant program open to Vermont schools and other municipal, private and non-profit partners who offer accessible, enriching activities to youth. This is the first grant to utilize a new ongoing State-funding source, which comes on the heels of over $10 million worth of grants deployed since 2021, and compliments the federal 21st Century Community Learning Centers (21st CCLC) program. Grants can be used to expand existing after school programs, create new ones or create comprehensive afterschool centers.


The Governor’s office is supporting student well-being and academic success through the expansion of behavioral health supports, specifically addressing and expanding Tier II supports for all students. In order to amplify existing efforts and share information, the Wyoming team created this Literature Review to provide evidence-based, Tier II practices and demonstrate how these supports can be implemented in Wyoming schools.


  • Governors across the country are working with their states and districts to implement school-based Medicaid mental health services to support students’ well-being. Sarah Broome, an expert in school-based Medicaid mental health services and policies, shared important information and resources to support states and districts in this effort. Watch the full presentation here
  • Governors across the country are working to address chronic absenteeism. Hedy Chang, Founder and Executive Director of Attendance Works, shared insights and effective strategies to help students attend school. Watch the full presentation here!   
  • Governors are engaging parents, families, and communities to ensure student academic success and well-being. Reyna Hernandez, Senior Director of Research and Policy of the National Association for Family, School, And Community Engagement and Windy Lopez-Aflitto, Vice President of Content and Partnerships of Learning Heroes, discussed promising practices and levers for Governors and states to help engage parents and families within the school community. Watch the full presentation here!

NGA Resources

National Resources