|Population Reach:||20-49% of WI's population|
|Impact on Disparities:|
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School-based social and emotional instruction aims to teach children skills such as recognizing and managing emotions and setting and reaching goals, as well as increasing ability to appreciate others’ perspectives, establish and maintain relationships, and handle interpersonal situations constructively. Skills may be modeled, practiced, and then applied throughout the school day (Durlak 2011). Social and emotional learning (SEL) can also be called emotional literacy, emotional intelligence, mental health, resilience, life skills, or character education (Weare 2011).
There is strong evidence that school-based social and emotional instruction increases academic achievement, self-confidence, commitment to school (Weare 2011), social and emotional skills, and prosocial behavior among participants (Durlak 2011). Such interventions have also been shown to reduce depression, anxiety, and social withdrawal among participating youth (Durlak 2011) and increase high school graduation rates among youth at risk of dropping out of school (CG-TFR Education). Interventions appear effective in urban and rural schools, and in schools in low income communities (CASEL-Payton 2008, Lewis 2013, NBER-Cook 2014). Effects can be strongest with younger children, especially when interventions in later years reinforce earlier messages (Weare 2011).
Whole class interventions and those that focus on children who have demonstrated social and emotional difficulties appear effective (Weare 2011, CASEL-Payton 2008). Whole-class SEL interventions, especially those that include older children or cognitive behavioral interventions, also improve anger management, and reduce violence, bullying, and conflict. However, interventions that focus only on children who have demonstrated violent or bullying behavior can increase problematic behavior, especially when peer-based interventions group these children together (Weare 2011).
SEL programs that use a coordinated sequence connecting activities to objectives, active learning to reinforce new skills, focus on developing personal or social skills, and explicitly address social and emotional skills—all four components of SAFE practices—achieve the broadest range of possible outcomes (Durlak 2011). Interventions that focus directly on social and emotional outcomes and communicate specific, well-defined guidelines, goals, and rationales are more effective than those that do not (Weare 2011). Interventions lasting nine months or more yield stronger effects on behavior, mental health, violence, and bullying than shorter interventions. Shorter interventions can improve mild difficulties with conflict, anxiety, or emotions, however, single, brief interventions do not appear effective (Weare 2011).
Whole class, teacher-led interventions can be more effective than specialist-led interventions, especially for academic outcomes (Durlak 2011, Weare 2011). Researchers suggest that SEL interventions involve teachers to ensure that SEL skills are incorporated into daily school life (Weare 2011). Afterschool interventions also appear effective (CASEL-Payton 2008). Researchers suggest that schools choose SEL interventions they can implement most easily (Weare 2011).
Kansas, Illinois, Idaho, Maine, Washington, Tennessee, Missouri, Vermont, and Pennsylvania have comprehensive SEL standards for K-12 schools. Alabama offers character development standards, but standards are not comprehensive across grade levels. New York does not have standards but provides resources to support SEL. The remaining states do not have SEL standards or support for K-12 schools. All states have SEL standards for preschools (CASEL-State scan).
Wisconsin has SEL standards for preschools, but not K-12 schools (CASEL-State scan).
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