The Impact of SEL on Student Achievement

Research has also shown that effective SEL implementation in schools has a significant and measurable impact on academic achievement, including reading, writing, and math.

A recent study conducted by The Society for Research in Child Development concludes that SEL has a positive impact on student achievement at all educational levels and across urban, suburban, and rural settings.

The study measured an 11 percent improvement in students’ academic achievement – particularly when SEL skills were encouraged by teachers in classrooms – noting, “student academic performance significantly improved when school personnel” were involved.

Strategies to Support Teachers in Integrating SEL into Classroom Instruction

At first, the task of adding another layer to classroom instruction might seem daunting to teachers. However, teachers themselves are the biggest advocates for SEL: a survey conducted by CASEL this year found that teachers overwhelmingly believe SEL has a positive impact on students’ growth and academic performance, regardless of ethnic background or socioeconomic status.

The barrier therefore is not awareness, but rather the challenge to address both academic and SEL instruction in an integrated approach. The solution is not to add an SEL class or to intervene only when necessary. Schools must allocate resources and focus professional development activities that support teachers with including SEL as a component of regular instruction. In this manner, teachers can successfully embrace the “whole student” mentality to prepare students for college, careers and citizenship by addressing SEL skills in everyday classroom activities.

For example, at Goalbook we provide resources and strategies to help teachers scaffold social and emotional learning objectives and to design integrated instruction in their classroom. Our content and professional development materials are aligned to the Universal Design for Learning research framework to promote multiple means of access to personal growth and success.

As students are challenged by more rigorous, standards-based instruction in the context of learning environments comprised of an increasing diversity of students, it only seems logical that their ability to succeed is closely tied to their ability to mature, cooperate, and persist. Schools must take a proactive role in this whole student transformation and support teachers with ensuring that all students can develop the problem-solving, collaboration, and communication skills necessary to succeed and thrive in the 21st century.

Steve Saul is a manager on the school and district success team at Goalbook. Prior to Goalbook, Steve was a high school English teacher and track team coach in Naperville, IL.

Daniel Jhin Yoo is the co-founder of Goalbook. Daniel was formerly a special education teacher and coordinator in East Palo Alto, CA.  He has also been a software developer at Oracle and Google.