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School-based social and emotional instruction

Health Factors: Education
Decision Makers: Educators
Evidence Rating: Scientifically Supported
Population Reach: 20-49% of WI's population
Impact on Disparities: No impact on disparities likely

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Description

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).

Expected Beneficial Outcomes

Increased academic achievement
Increased high school graduation
Improved social emotional skills
Increased school engagement
Increased self-confidence
Improved mental health
Improved youth behavior
Reduced violence
Reduced bullying

Evidence of Effectiveness

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).

Implementation

United States

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).

There are several SEL curriculum programs available for purchase, such as PATHS and Second Step (CB-PATHS, CFC-Second Step).

Wisconsin

Wisconsin has SEL standards for preschools, but not K-12 schools (CASEL-State scan).

Implementation Resources

CASEL - Collaborative for Academic, Social, and Emotional Learning (CASEL). Accessed on January 28, 2016
CGTL 2014 - American Institute for Research (AIR). Teaching the whole child: Instructional practices that support social-emotional learning. Center on Great Teachers & Leaders (CGTL). 2014. Accessed on January 28, 2016

Citations - Description

Durlak 2011 - Durlak JA, Weissberg RP, Dymnicki AB, Taylor RD, Schellinger KB. The impact of enhancing students’ social and emotional learning: A meta-analysis of school-based universal interventions. Child Development. 2011;82(1):405–32. Accessed on January 28, 2016
Weare 2011 - Weare K, Nind M. Mental health promotion and problem prevention in schools: What does the evidence say? Health Promotion International. 2011;26(Suppl 1):i29–69. Accessed on January 28, 2016

Citations - Evidence

CASEL-Payton 2008 - Payton J, Weissberg RP, Durlak JA, et al. The positive impact of social and emotional learning for kindergarten to eighth-grade student: Findings from three scientific reviews. Chicago, IL: Collaborative for Academic, Social, and Emotional Learning (CASEL); 2008. Accessed on January 28, 2016
CG-TFR Education - The Guide to Community Preventive Services (The Community Guide). Task Force Recommends (TFR) Education Programs to Promote Health Equity. Accessed on December 19, 2016
Durlak 2011 - Durlak JA, Weissberg RP, Dymnicki AB, Taylor RD, Schellinger KB. The impact of enhancing students’ social and emotional learning: A meta-analysis of school-based universal interventions. Child Development. 2011;82(1):405–32. Accessed on January 28, 2016
Lewis 2013* - Lewis KM, DuBois DL, Bavarian N, et al. Effects of positive action on the emotional health of urban youth: A cluster-randomized trial. The Journal of Adolescent Health. 2014;53(6):706–11. Accessed on January 28, 2016
NBER-Cook 2014* - Cook PJ, Dodge K, Farkas G, et al. The (Surprising) efficacy of academic and behavioral intervention with disadvantaged youth: Results from a randomized experiment in Chicago. National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER). 2014: Working Paper 19862. Accessed on January 28, 2016
Weare 2011 - Weare K, Nind M. Mental health promotion and problem prevention in schools: What does the evidence say? Health Promotion International. 2011;26(Suppl 1):i29–69. Accessed on January 28, 2016

Citations - Implementation

CASEL-State scan - Collaborative for Academic, Social, and Emotional Learning (CASEL). State scan scorecard project. Accessed on February 1, 2016
CB-PATHS - Channing Bete Company (CB). PATHS (Promoting Alternative THinking Strategies) Program: The PATHS program is grounded in social and emotional learning (SEL). Accessed on January 28, 2016
CFC-Second Step - Committee for Children (CFC). Second Step early learning through grade 8: Skills for social and academic success. Accessed on January 28, 2016

Page Last Updated

January 28, 2016

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