SEL should be an easy sell for U.S. schools and districts

We can no longer afford to ignore the power of SEL to help create safe and nurturing learning environments

Long-term benefits of comprehensive SEL programs include breaking the cycle of poverty, better jobs and careers, increased civic engagement, and decreased criminal activity.

Bringing SEL to schools: Use success stories to facilitate buy-in
Despite research showing the benefits of SEL, some stakeholders in education are reluctant to fully embrace it. Responsibility for students’ social and emotional growth can be seen as a gray area to be dealt with outside of school. Yet, in districts where SEL has been implemented the results have been eye-opening:

  • Since implementing SEL in 2012, the Washoe County (NV) School District reports increased graduation rates from 55 percent to 75 percent. SEL is a key strategy in the district’s goal to achieve a 90-percent graduation rate by 2020.
  • At the Austin (TX) Independent School District, schools with more years in SEL are showing better attendance rates, fewer discretionary removals, and higher feelings of safety among students.
  • After just one to two years of SEL, select sites in Metro Nashville (TN) Public Schools have reported a 33-percent reduction in disciplinary referrals, 60 percent fewer suspensions, and a 23-percent learning gap decrease among limited-English-proficiency students.

One reason why SEL is so effective is that it does not try to replace the role of the school or community in the child’s education, but rather acts as a partner. SEL shapes interactions between students and adults at all levels, creating a welcoming environment that fosters participation.

SEL is not a single program or teaching method. It involves an integrated approach across classrooms, schools, districts, homes, and communities.

Using data to ensure SEL effectiveness
SEL indicators are offshoots of SEL competencies that can be measured, tracked, and analyzed. For example, if a student needs to improve in the self-management SEL competency, they may demonstrate a high level of impulsiveness. By monitoring this data, educators can help students avoid behaviors that can impede academic performance.

SEL sets students up for success by helping them work together and adopt a fresh mindset focused on self-care. We can no longer afford to ignore the power of SEL to help create safe and nurturing learning environments.

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