Committee for Children Blog

What’s New with SEL in 2019?

What's new in social-emotional learning in 2019

Interest in social-emotional learning (SEL) has grown exponentially, even since last July, when I posted What’s New with SEL in 2018. Here I highlight some of this year’s updates in the field, including new resources, policy progress, and more.

Growing US Demand for SEL

In recent years, districts and organizations have increased the number of positions that administer social-emotional learning initiatives. Today, nearly half the US departments of education incorporate SEL in some way. According to an Education Week survey of 500+ school district leaders, 90 percent of those surveyed have already invested in social-emotional learning products or plan to do so in the 2019–20 school year. This surge has been noted by Committee for Children, who report “higher interest than ever” in their own SEL program, Second Step.

Record $260 Million SEL Budget Proposal

The US House Appropriations Committee has also recognized the growing interest in social-emotional learning. Early this year it drafted an unprecedented $260 million budget to provide funds for SEL-related professional development, continued research, increased mental health presence, and support for community schools.

The promotion of social, emotional, and academic learning is not a shifting education fad; it is the substance of education itself.

A Nation at Hope

More School Leadership Support

Education leadership organizations have increased their focus on SEL, contributing numerous valuable resources for leaders. The National Association of State Boards of Education recently released the School Leaders’ Role in Empowering Teachers through SEL, which emphasizes the role of administrators in supporting SEL and teacher well-being. Also new on the scene is Guidance and Resources for Social and Emotional Learning from the Council of Chief State School Officers, another organization with nationwide scope.

Help with SEL Competency Assessments

CASEL’s recently published SEL Assessment Guide suggests a seven-step process for preparing, selecting, and using SEL assessments. It presents information about how to select an assessment and use the data, along with a catalog of SEL assessments to consider. The guide gives cautions for using SEL assessments and includes real-life examples of how others are using them. For those who sign up, the CASEL Measuring SEL initiative offers a weekly blog series. A recent favorite of mine is the post How SEL Competence Assessment Can Improve Teaching and Learning.

Inaugural National SEL Conference This Fall

The Chicago SEL Exchange 2019, first conference of its kind, will be hosted by CASEL in October. More than 800 proposals were submitted to address the twin themes of ensuring high-quality SEL work and advancing learning around SEL. This much-anticipated event is sponsored in part by Committee for Children.

Landmark Report from National Commission on Social, Emotional, and Academic Development

Drawing on input from more than 200 scientists, youth and parent groups, educators, and policymakers, the National Commission on Social, Emotional, and Academic Development delivered its final report, From a Nation at Risk to a Nation at Hope. The report provides six key recommendations to researchers, educators, and policymakers for strengthening efforts to support the whole learner. Other highlights include:

  • Proposed changes in how research is conducted and how learning from the research can be shared in meaningful ways, for use in practice
  • Practical recommendations for creating positive learning environments in schools and communities, for all learners
  • Videos about what it looks like to support the whole learner
  • Communication resources for how to talk with multiple audiences about fostering social, emotional, and cognitive development in ways that are meaningful to all

There is abundant evidence that when districts and schools explicitly and meaningfully commit to focusing on the students’ comprehensive development as a central part of their academic growth, the academic success and the welfare of students rise powerfully together.

A Nation at Hope

New Schoolwide SEL Tool

CASEL recently released a free guide to schoolwide social and emotional learning, developed in collaboration with a number of districts and schools. It provides a structure for supporting and sustaining schoolwide social-emotional learning implementation and for infusing SEL into all parts of students’ education.

New Grow Kinder Podcast

To celebrate their 40th year, Committee for Children launched an SEL-centric podcast called Grow Kinder. In an interview-based format, thought leaders in education, business, tech, and the arts share their perspectives about how social-emotional skills apply in every aspect of life. Intended for anyone interested in learning more about the topic—including parents, educators, policymakers, and business leaders—listeners will hear from nearly 20 SEL professionals in 2019.

Coming Soon: New Out-of-School Time SEL Program

To help fill the gap in research-based SEL out-of-school-time (OST) programs, Committee for Children is designing a program that will support children from Kindergarten through Grade 5 and will accommodate mix-aged settings. Focusing on research-based activities, games, projects, and group discussion, it’ll provide culturally responsive and relevant teaching, and will also include professional development for OST facilitators. The new social-emotional learning program for out-of-school time is planned to release in 2020.

With so much happening in the field of SEL, it can be difficult to keep up with everything. Follow Committee for Children’s regular blog posts and current policy and advocacy to find the latest SEL news or get involved.