Committee for Children Blog

New Directions for Second Step® Programs in 2023–2024: A Back-to-School Update with Liliana Suero

Children smiling

The Second Step® Elementary and Second Step® Middle School digital programs are reset and updated every summer in preparation for the coming school year. With this year’s reset complete and updates underway, we sat down with Director of Product Management Liliana Suero to learn more about this year’s changes.

Hello, Liliana! Let’s jump right in. What is the annual update, and why is it important for educators to tune in and take note of what’s changing?

Director of Product Management Liliana Suero

Thank you for asking, and hello to our Second Step educators!

Every June, at the time when most of you aren’t actively teaching our elementary and middle school digital programs, we reset classes and data and make improvements. Now that the program reset is complete (it happened on June 23) and our updates are nearly complete, this is the perfect time for you to learn about these changes and think about how you’ll implement any new resources.

What are the top three most important or exciting changes that educators can expect?

  1. The first change I’ll mention is for Second Step leaders and administrators. Based on your feedback, we understand how important it is for you to support your staff’s ability to implement the program with fidelity. After the updates are complete, when you log in, you’ll immediately see a Leader Dashboard showing how program adoption is going at your school, including the number of accounts and programs created. It will contain links to additional details and actionable data so you can follow up if needed. If you’re a district-level administrator, this top-line information for all your schools will now appear in one place for easy, centralized access.
  2. We’re also introducing a new Implementation Guide for leaders. The guide’s organization reflects a simplified Second Step implementation framework. Each section covers a stage in the implementation journey and includes articles related to key activities in that stage. The content is streamlined and gives step-by-step instructions to provide a low-burden, high-impact experience as you oversee program implementation at your schools. We’ve also included guidance on how to increase staff buy-in, which you’ve told us is a top need.
  3. Other updates focus on educators and students. Using data, feedback, and analysis, we’re making our programs more flexible, engaging, and easy to teach. In the Second Step® Elementary digital program, we’ve added two amazing new Mae and Mateo (and Pepito!) videos to Grade 1, improved learner supports for goal-setting in Grades 3–5, and included new educator supports like unit plans, an “explore lessons” feature, and morning announcement scripts. This is in addition to resources we added over the last year, including a substantial number of supplemental and reinforcement activities, lesson progress reporting improvements, translated family communications (now available in 13 languages), and comprehensive Spanish-language materials so the program can be fully taught in English or Spanish.
Mao and Mateo holding balloons

If you’d like to learn even more about the program updates, we’ve created some resources for educators—including videos directly from our program managers and detailed FAQ articles—that you can access in a list below.

What are some new directions you’re thinking about for the 2024–2025 school year?

Most notably, we’ll have a brand-new high school program in 2024! We know that supporting high school students with research-based social-emotional learning is a priority for many schools and districts. Offering that high-quality support is our priority. This is our second year of discovery, testing, and prototyping for a high school program, and we’re now in the final stretch. More details about the program are coming this fall.

This year our programs will also benefit from important research conducted with support from the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation and an IES grant. We’re using the data collected from this research to strengthen student engagement with our middle school program and help families support students’ social-emotional learning experiences.

We’ll also continue to focus on bringing a variety of supports to educators and leaders, from implementation planning resources to teacher training and professional development. 

Thank you for your stewardship of the Second Step® family of programs, Liliana. This has been so informative.

Thank you for asking these questions. I want to finish by saying this to educators: we see and celebrate the care you put into implementing our programs. In fact, this year we launched the inaugural Second Step Educator of the Year awards to honor your excellence, dedication, and innovation.

Thank you for partnering with us to help children thrive through social-emotional development. Keep your feedback coming. We look forward to hearing from you!

Further reading and viewing related to this interview:

  • Learn from Product Manager Miloshi Mehta about updates to the Second Step® Elementary and Second Step® Middle School digital programs in this three-minute video
  • Learn about updates to Second Step implementation supports from Product Manager Amanda Page in this three-minute video