Committee for Children Blog

CASEL and Committee for Children Sponsor Briefing on Improving Outcomes Through SEL

On October 25, the Collaborative for Academic, Social, and Emotional Learning (CASEL), the Learning Policy Institute (LPI), and Committee for Children (CFC) held a briefing to discuss the valuable work being led by states and school districts through initiatives such as CASEL’s Collaborating Districts Initiative (CDI) and its Collaborating States Initiative (CSI) and the successful outcomes they are achieving. After a brief introduction by Joan Cole Duffell, executive director of Committee for Children, five presenters covered various aspects of social-emotional learning (SEL). The introduction was followed by comments from Dr. Roger Weissberg, chief knowledge officer at CASEL. According to Dr. Weissberg, studies consistently show that the incorporation of SEL—when implemented well at all levels and across all contexts—provides a significant and positive return on investment in students and teachers. Currently, CASEL’s CDI is working with 20 districts around the country, and the CSI has partnered with 20 states.

Maisha Riddlesprigger, principal at Ketcham Elementary School in Washington DC, explained the work at the local level and the success her school has achieved since effectively implementing SEL standards. Ketcham Elementary has won two Breakthrough Schools Bold Performance Awards, in recognition of the high academic performance of the student body and the challenges overcome despite the school’s serving an economically disadvantaged demographic. Principal Riddlesprigger elaborated on Ketcham Elementary’s SEL journey, its impacts, and how SEL has helped the school “overcome certain indicators of poverty that suggest its students would not perform at high levels.”

Traci Davis, superintendent for Washoe County School District in Nevada, emphasized a number of things, including: the importance of creating a detailed strategic plan when implementing SEL on a districtwide level; the value of providing access to high quality professional development for teachers implementing SEL standards; and the fiscal commitments required to do so. Superintendent Davis also highlighted her district’s development of a site-based leadership team within each school for consistent professional support and implementation of SEL programming.

Beth Herman, project coordinator for Safe Schools Healthy Students in the Wisconsin Department of Public Instruction, further stressed the significance of understanding that SEL also encompasses student mental health and wellness in general, and walked through the work Wisconsin is doing focused on the intersection of SEL and mental health awareness.

Finally, Hanna Melnick, research and policy associate at the Learning Policy Institute, stressed that pre-service and in-service training can be invaluable in improving teacher practice and that, moving forward, SEL advocates must urge Congress to fully fund Title II and Title IV, Part A of the Every Student Succeeds Act as well as support school leader development as part of Title II in the upcoming reauthorization of the Higher Education Act.


Written by Washington Partners, LLC