Turnaround Tuesdays feature examples of innovative solutions to problems, such as this district's SEL efforts.

How we turned around our disciplinary infraction rate

The right SEL approach helped this elementary school reduce disciplinary referrals and intervene early


Cordata Elementary School is a 400-student public school serving grades PreK-5 in the Bellingham School District in Washington. The school has the highest percentage of English Language Learners in the district at 33 percent; and 68 percent of the student body qualifies for free or reduced-priced lunch.

Biggest Challenges

A few years ago, Cordata Elementary School was experiencing a high number of disciplinary referrals. Our school was also ranked the highest-need school in the district based on students’ scores on early childhood assessments. The assessments measured areas such as social-emotional learning, language, numeracy, and large motor skills. We knew that in order to help our students achieve academically and reduce discipline rates; we needed to find a way to address students’ non-academic needs.

Related content: How SEL inspired a transformation in my school


Our solution was to develop an intensive intervention model centered around social-emotional learning (SEL) that would allow us to intervene early with students who needed targeted social-emotional support and monitor their progress over time. The initiative included multiple components including adding staff, implementing training programs, adopting an SEL assessment and using a team approach.

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