Helping Schools Support Social-Emotional Learning With Evidence-Based Programs

Posted April 19, 2018
By the Annie E. Casey Foundation
Students in a classroom

A new brief from the Annie E. Casey Foun­da­tion high­lights nine prac­ti­cal strate­gies for help­ing school lead­ers, admin­is­tra­tors and teach­ers imple­ment and sus­tain evi­dence-based Social-Emo­tion­al Learn­ing pro­grams for their students.

A grow­ing body of research shows that social-emo­tion­al com­pe­ten­cies — such as the abil­i­ty to build healthy rela­tion­ships or feel empa­thy — are crit­i­cal to a young person’s capac­i­ty to learn and thrive. Pro­grams that cul­ti­vate these com­pe­ten­cies are increas­ing in demand, even as schools con­tin­ue to grap­ple with chal­leng­ing fund­ing landscapes.

Sup­port­ing Social-Emo­tion­al Learn­ing With Evi­dence-Based Pro­grams draws on the expe­ri­ences of sev­en school dis­tricts across the coun­try that have suc­cess­ful­ly imple­ment­ed social-emo­tion­al learn­ing pro­grams. The brief uses an imple­men­ta­tion sci­ence frame­work to bun­dle fund­ing and sus­tain­abil­i­ty strate­gies into four stages.

These stages are:

  1. Explo­ration, when a school dis­trict estab­lish­es a foun­da­tion for iden­ti­fy­ing and fund­ing evi­dence-based programs.
  2. Instal­la­tion, when a dis­trict and schools work togeth­er to devel­op the resources and infra­struc­ture need­ed to pre­pare for implementation.
  3. Ini­tial Imple­men­ta­tion, when teach­ers and staff inte­grate new skills, prac­tices and pro­ce­dures into their dai­ly work.
  4. Full Imple­men­ta­tion, when teach­ers and staff rou­tine­ly deliv­er high-qual­i­ty pro­grams, and this work becomes the sta­tus quo.

In the explo­ration stage, a school dis­trict strate­gi­cal­ly selects an evi­dence-based social-emo­tion­al learn­ing pro­gram after con­sid­er­ing cul­tur­al fit, fund­ing and staff resources as well as input from school com­mu­ni­ty mem­bers and partners.

In the next two stages, the dis­trict and schools devel­op an imple­men­ta­tion infra­struc­ture. This includes build­ing teams to help guide, per­form and sus­tain the work and estab­lish­ing exter­nal part­ner­ships as need­ed. The select­ed pro­gram is ulti­mate­ly rolled out on a small scale and refined.

Dur­ing full imple­men­ta­tion, the dis­trict and schools expand pro­gram deliv­ery. They sus­tain this work through good data col­lec­tion and by inte­grat­ing social-emo­tion­al learn­ing out­comes into core cur­ric­u­la, plans and policies.

Achiev­ing social-emo­tion­al learn­ing out­comes can reap ben­e­fits for stu­dents and edu­ca­tors,” says Ilene Berman, a senior asso­ciate with the Casey Foundation’s Evi­dence-Based Prac­tice Group. Our strate­gies for effec­tive­ly imple­ment­ing evi­dence-based pro­grams, drawn from dis­trict expe­ri­ence, pave a path toward pro­gram sus­tain­abil­i­ty. They also have the poten­tial to fun­da­men­tal­ly change sys­tem prac­tices so that schools can improve out­comes across a com­plex range of stu­dent development.”

Read Sup­port­ing Social-Emo­tion­al Learn­ing With Evi­dence-Based Programs

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