Academy for Social-Emotional Learning in Schools

SEL Research



Teacher and Student

For Every $1 Spent on SEL, There’s An $11 Return

Summary: This article reports on a new research brief from Penn State University and the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation which found that money spent on SEL programs brought back a significant return on the dollar.

Source:  Autumn Arnett, Education Dive, April 11, 2017

Categories:  SEL Basics. SEL Research, School Culture/Climate, Student Behavior



HS Students

Social Emotional Learning in High School: How Three Urban High Schools Engage, Educate, and Empower Youth

Summary:  This article reports on in-depth case studies of three urban, socioeconomically and racially diverse small public high schools, a student survey, and a comparison of student survey results to a national sample of students, Hamedani et al. investigate the ways in which school-wide social emotional learning can be implemented and how these efforts shape students’ educational experiences. 

Source:  Hamedani et al. SCOPE – Stanford Center for Opportunity Policy in Education, April 1, 2015

Categories:  SEL Basics, SEL Research, School Culture and Climate, Student Engagement




Chicago Public Schools Leads On SEL With Collaborative Approach to Implementation

Summary:  This article reports on the Chicago Public Schools’ initiative to support social-emotional in all of their 650 schools.  This is paired with the creation of a set of standards for SEL and a pathway for schools to earn a “Supportive Schools” Certification.

Source:  Tara Garcia Matthewson, Education DIVE, April 6, 2017

Categories:  SEL Basics, SEL Research, School Culture and Climate



Student CIrcle

SEL is Important, But Where Does It Fit Best Among Academics?

Summary:  Despite a recognition that social-emotional or “whole child” education is important to student success, questions persist about where it best fits in curricula.

Source:  Roger Riddell, Education DIVE, April 3, 2017

Categories:  SEL Basics, SEL Research, Student Achievement



Life Ring

Study: A Teacher’s Encouragement Gives Students a Lasting Boost

Summary:  This article reports on a study that shows the positive impact of support from a teacher on student achievement and their desire to continue their education.

Source: Brenda Iasevoli, Education Week, March 31, 2017

Categories: Positive Relationships, Student Achievement, SEL Basics, SEL Research




Anatomy of School Bullying

Summary:  This article provides information from a report on school bullying that was published by the National Center for Education Statistics identifying the “hot spots” for bullying around the school building.  They identified the transitional areas between classrooms as the places where bullying was most likely to occur.

Source:  Stephen Merrill, Edutopia, March 21, 2017

Categories:  Anti-Bullying, School Culture/Climate, SEL Research



Nashville-based School Network Puts Big Focus on SEL

Summary:  A new school network in Nashville is realizing student success by incorporating social and emotional learning into its curriculum.

Source:  Stephen Noonoo, Education Dive, March 16, 2017

Categories:  SEL Basics, SEL Research, Student Achievement



School Teacher Teaching Students Learning Concept

SEL Academy Recognized by CASEL as an Exemplary Program!

CASEL, working with teacher educators at the University of British Columbia, has published a report summarizing findings from their national scan of programs engaged in teacher preparation for SEL.  The Academy for SEL is named as an “exemplary program” in the report!  Exemplary programs are described on pages 58-59 of the report.  You can jump to the appropriate page from the Table of Contents.

Please find the full report at the link below…



School Climate: For Middle Schoolers, Connection Can Drive Math and Reading

Summary:  This article provides information on a research project involving 7th graders at 1000 California middle schools asking the students to report on various aspects of school climate.  These included feelings of safety and connection, caring relationships with adults, meaningful student participation, and low rates of bullying, drug use, delinquency and discrimination at school.  The results of the study make the connection with positive climate and student achievement.

Source: Sarah D. Sparks, Education Week, February 3, 2017

Categories:  SEL Basics, SEL Research, Student Achievement




The World Has Changed, Why Haven’t Our Schools?

By Tara Laughlin, Ed.D., Director of Curriculum at Pairin

Academic knowledge is so last century. It is widely recognized that students need more than this to be successful later in life, especially in our diverse, ever-changing global landscape. Many additional skills are necessary to build well-rounded individuals prepared for college and careers. Social and emotional skills make up one category of these essential skills, including attributes such as resiliency, stress management, empathy, social awareness, and self-confidence.

Incorporating social and emotional skills into the classroom is essential for many reasons. First, these skills provide a foundation on which academic success is built. Students trained in social and emotional skills had academic achievement scores which were an average of 11 percentile points higher than those who did not, according to a meta-analysis of 213 studies (Weissberg, et al., 2015). These students also tend to have better attitudes toward school and more positive relationships with peers and adults. In addition, there are numerous personal benefits such as lower instances of depression and stress along with reduced risk-taking and criminal behaviors. This is coupled with increased prosocial behavior as well as increased confidence, persistence, empathy, and more engaged citizenship.

There are also far-reaching implications of social and emotional learning for the changing workforce and the economy of the future. Originally, the U.S. system of education was designed to prepare students for a life of repetitive, industrialized work. Over time, the number of manual and routine jobs has steadily declined within the United States in favor of more complex, non-routine forms of employment, jobs which will require effective social and emotional skills. The following graph illustrates this trend.

Graph 1
(Image source: Pairin, 2015)


So given these massive global shifts and the significant benefits for students, why haven’t schools kept up? According to a recent study by the Education Week Research Center, only 34 percent of teachers are integrating social emotional learning into their classrooms, even minimally, even though 99 percent agree that social emotional learning increases student achievement, improves the school climate, and reduces school discipline problems.


(Image source: Pairin, 2015)


Educators understand that social and emotional skills are important for students. However, some resist making changes because they are worried these skills may not be teachable, measurable or possible to incorporate in a time-efficient manner. In addition, while the large majority of teachers want to integrate social and emotional skills into their curricula, many simply do not have the resources, training, or leeway from their superiors to do so. The fact that 84% of teachers surveyed want training on how to teach these skills indicates that they feel unprepared to make this shift. A systemic change in educational priorities is needed—one which affirms the reality that the world is different; one which grants social and emotional skills equal importance to traditional academic content; in other words, one which gives all students a real shot at success.


Autor, D., & Price, B. (2013). The changing task composition of the US labor market: An update of Autor, Levy, and Murnane (2003). Cambridge, MA: Massachusetts Institute of Technology. Retrieved from

Education Week Research Center. (2015). Social and emotional learning: Perspectives from America’s schools. Retrieved from

Pairin. (2015, November 2). The methodology behind integrating essential college and career skills into everyday curricula. Retrieved from

Weissberg, R., Durlak, J.A., Domitrovich, C.E., & Gullotta, T.P. (2015, February 15). Why social and emotional learning is essential for students [Web log comment]. Retrieved from

World Economic Forum. (2016). New vision for education: Fostering social and emotional learning through technology. Retrieved from


Dr. Tara Laughlin is the Director of Curriculum at Pairin ( and a former teacher of 10 years.  She can be reached at