Committee for Children Blog

Social-Emotional Learning

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The field of social-emotional learning (SEL) has made many exciting strides since Committee for Children introduced its first curriculum in 1989. During April 2017, in particular, a number of reports were published intended to advance the field of SEL.

SEL and Elementary School
The Pennsylvania State University, with support from the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, just released a comprehensive overview of social-emotional learning programs at the elementary school level. The report summarizes how social-emotional competencies provide a basis for academic and work success and describes what it takes for these competencies to be effective in the school setting. According to the report, the most effective programs are: evidence-based, improved by partnering with families, culturally and linguistically sensitive, and include teacher training.

SEL and School Accountability
Two reports speak to how states can incorporate SEL into their state Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA) plans. A report published by the Collaborative for Academic, Social, and Emotional Learning (CASEL) identifies five key strategies for addressing SEL in ESSA plans, from articulating a well-rounded vision of student success and providing professional development that improves educator SEL capacity to using Title IV grants and making SEL data available to the public. The second report, Encouraging Social and Emotional Learning in the Context of New Accountability prepared by Learning Policy Institute discusses the opportunity schools have to measure new kinds of quality and success outcomes through the accountability mandate in ESSA. The report recommends that measures of students’ social and emotional competencies are best used at the local level to inform teaching, learning, and program investments. Education Week has created a tracking system to identify key elements of state accountability plans when they are submitted to the U.S. Department of Education. Currently, schools seem to be using chronic absenteeism as an indicator of school quality.

SEL in After-School Programs
The National Conference of State Legislatures (NCSL) issued a brief on the importance of SEL in after-school programming and cites current SEL legislation in 10 states.  The brief links to a research review showing that afterschool programs that follow four evidence based practices can positively effect a student’s personal and social development. The brief also directs readers to a study that shows after school programs can support employability through SEL.

SEL and Career Readiness: Integrate into Early Learning and Career and Technical Education
Finally, two new reports on SEL and career readiness have been released this past month. The first report, Social-Emotional Skills in Early Childhood Support Workforce Success: Why Business Executives Want Employees Who Play Well with Others, produced by ReadyNation and Council for a Strong America makes the case that workforce skills are built during early education. And, on the other end of the educational spectrum, The Aspen Institute in its report, This Time with Feeling, states that curricula promoting social-emotional development help produce better outcomes on college and career ready standards.

And, here are some exciting reads: