Committee for Children Blog

How to Work with State Education Agencies to Support Social-Emotional Learning

Adults and educators can work with district leaders on social-emotional learning

Knowing what your state education agency has in place for social-emotional learning (SEL) is a first step toward finding out how to best connect with that agency to support your SEL efforts. Collaboration between the state and district is key for successful SEL implementation and sustainability.

State education agencies that support SEL have taken varied approaches to meet their districts’ and schools’ unique needs. Most state agencies are quite large, with many departments. Finding the right person to talk to can take time. The people and positions within these departments change, and few who lead the SEL work have SEL in their position titles, since they support other initiatives too. Finding the SEL web pages can also be a challenge. Where does one start?

Where to find out more about your state’s SEL efforts

First try the CASEL State Scorecard Scan. Find out whether your state agency has articulated state social-emotional learning competencies and for what grades. Access the competencies via the Scorecard Map. Learn whether your state has tools and resources to support social-emotional learning implementation and how to access them quickly. If you’re struggling to find your state’s SEL web page, these resources will direct you there. Often, names of the key SEL contact people at your state agency can also be found on these web pages.

Your state may also be highlighted in this Emerging Insights Report, which explains how different states have customized their approaches to SEL (key insight 2), how they’re integrating SEL across state programs and policies (key insight 4), and how they’re supporting professional development in SEL (key insight 7).

Just how much does your state support SEL, and how far does that support extend? What’s the future of SEL looking like in your state? Find out what bills have been proposed to support SEL and what legislation exists on exclusionary discipline.

Once you have a better sense of where your state education agency is with social-emotional learning, what SEL supports your agency provides, and who you can connect with at your agency for questions and support, you can work with your state agency to enhance your district’s SEL efforts in these ways:

  1. Try ideas from other districts that already work with their states. Many districts and states are collaborating to provide academic, social, and emotional learning. Learn about how local and regional educators are collaborating with state agencies in these six states to implement academic, social, and emotional learning. Talk with your state agency to learn what they have in place for those ideas. Ask if they’re willing to partner with you on one or more of them.
  2. Talk with your state agency about these district recommendations for how states can support SEL. Ask your state’s SEL leaders what they’re doing in these areas, and chances are you’ll learn about other supports available to you that you may not have known about before.
  3. Ask your state agency about options for district networking and whether they would help support it. Learning from others is critical for sustaining SEL implementation efforts, and state agencies may be available to get these initial efforts started.

Your state education agency, if it’s supporting SEL, can help you figure out where and how to start with SEL with a model for implementation, trainings, training materials, technical assistance, access to experts in the field, access to networking with other districts, and other tools. Although the ”heavy lifting” and the real work for long-term success lies with the district, state agencies can help districts get off to a good start by increasing access to SEL resources and making SEL implementation manageable.

How have you successfully worked with your state agency for SEL success?