Teachers Know Students Need Social Emotional Learning, Face Challenges Delivering Support, According to New Survey From ReadTheory


Majority report lack of time and training as barriers to helping students build social emotional skills

WILMINGTON, DE – August 4, 2022 –   A new survey reveals that while teachers know their students need help developing social emotional skills, they rarely have time or adequate training to focus on them in the classroom. ReadTheory, an edtech company that helps students build reading comprehension skills, announced the findings of its new survey of nearly 1,700 teachers to get their insights into the challenges of implementing social emotional learning (SEL) programs in today’s tumultuous educational environment.

In the wake of the disruption of the pandemic, U.S. students are struggling. In 2021, the Center for Disease Control revealed that 37 percent of high school students reported poor mental health during the pandemic, while 44 percent said they persistently felt sad or hopeless during the past year. And with billions of dollars in federal ESSER funds available, schools are investing in SEL programs to help students  – and teachers – cope. According to Simba Information, spending for SEL instructional materials was $1.725 billion for the 2021-2022 school year. 

Yet, while 63 percent of teachers responding to ReadTheory’s survey believe mental wellness throughout the pandemic adversely affected instruction, a third reported they rarely or never teach SEL skills. Lack of time in the school day and lack of support from school leadership are among the challenges teachers said they faced when attempting to implement SEL.

“ReadTheory was founded on the belief that given the right support and resources, teachers have the power to transform the lives of their students,” said Ron Kirschenbaum, managing partner, ReadTheory. “In light of the struggles schools are facing, we conducted this survey to gain valuable insights into how teachers and students are coping and what can be done to support them as they navigate the future.”

Continuing he said, “What teachers told us provides a roadmap for the ways that school leaders, families and communities can help support social emotional learning for all students.”

Other key findings of the survey include:

  • Eighty percent of teachers indicated that some, most, or all students need support with social emotional needs.
  • Nearly 60 percent of teachers said that the pandemic impacted their students’ motivation to learn.
  • Teachers’ mental wellness throughout the pandemic affected their performance. More than 60 percent told ReadTheory their mental wellness impacted instruction.
  • More than 50 percent of teachers said they had not received any SEL training.
  • The home-school connection is not happening when it comes to SEL. Nearly 50 percent of teachers said families do not have the resources to teach SEL at home.


To see the survey’s complete findings and learn more about how school leaders and communities may use them to support SEL, visit https://readtheory.org/readtheorys-sel-survey/.

About ReadTheory

Developed 10 years ago by teachers for teachers, ReadTheory provides high-quality reading comprehension practice to students at all levels. Used by millions of teachers and students around the world, ReadTheory’s adaptive technology selects reading passages to match each student’s abilities, creating individualized programs that provide the right balance of challenge and support, keeping students motivated as they learn and grow. To learn more, visit ReadTheory.org.

eSchool News Staff

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