Austin Independent School District
AISD is a recognized leader in urban education and one of the first districts in the nation to commit to the development of the whole child by incorporating social and emotional learning. In AISD SEL implementation focuses on three core areas: positive culture and climate, SEL skill and concept integration, and explicit SEL instruction.
AISD schools are organized into vertical teams consisting of elementary and middle schools that feed into the district’s high schools. Two vertical teams led SEL implementation in 2011-12, with two to three more vertical teams added each additional year. As of 2013-14, SEL is active at 6 of the 11 vertical teams serving 55 percent of the students in AISD. By 2015-16, the goal is for all 11 vertical teams serving the district's 87,000 students to be participating in the three core areas of SEL.
Each vertical team works with elementary and secondary SEL coaches who coordinate professional development and collaborate with each school’s leadership and staff. AISD’s SEL staff create and refine professional development units, producing a coherent, high-quality and effective training process with integrated coaching.
For explicit SEL instruction, elementary and middle school teachers receive materials from Second Step. Lessons are taught weekly and reinforced in all areas of the school. High school teachers are using School-Connect as their resource. In five high schools freshmen take a Methods for Academic and Personal Success (MAPS) class to learn SEL and study skills while other high schools teach explicit SEL lessons during advisory class. In order to be college and life ready, students are explicitly taught SEL skills and concepts from prekindergarten to high school.
State of Texas Essential Knowledge and Skills (TEKS) academic standards are aligned with SEL Curriculum Standards, which were developed as a first step toward academic integration using standards from across the nation as a guide. They are based on the CASEL core SEL competencies and align with the instructional resources. AISD curriculum writers from across the district gather each summer to develop exemplar lessons for every academic area. Using the curriculum standards as a resource, one of the writers’ focal points is integrating Whole Child components into these lessons, such as opportunities for movement, drama-based activities, and SEL skill and concept practice.
The SEL Department works to build a common language with all stakeholders. In October 2012 AISD launched a website specifically about SEL. The district’s SEL team creates materials in both English and Spanish, offering bilingual publications and posters to involve families and the broader community in SEL. The SEL Department also works districtwide on internal collaborations that include: (1) Whole Child, Every Child, (2) No Place for Hate, (3) Any Given Child, (4) Physical and Health Education, and (5) Child Study System. The SEL Department also collaborates with out-of-school-time providers and community agencies to ensure that SEL reaches beyond the school day.
About the Superintendent
Paul Cruz was appointed AISD superintendent of schools in January 2015 after serving for several months as interim superintendent. He has worked in education for 28 years and is in his ninth year with AISD. In his prior role of chief schools officer he supervised four associate superintendents for high schools, middle schools, and elementary schools and more than 120 campus principals/directors. Previously he served as the AISD associate superintendent for middle schools. During that time he oversaw 20 campuses including one alternative school. He has worked as a teacher, campus administrator, and central office administrator in Corpus Christi, San Antonio, and South Texas. He was also a superintendent of schools in the Laredo ISD, a district with approximately 23,500 students. Having set a personal goal to earn a doctorate before the age of 30, he received his Ph.D. in educational leadership from the University of Texas at Austin at the age of 29. In his doctoral program he was a fellow in the Cooperative Superintendency Program, which is designed to prepare future urban school superintendents.
The district has published a detailed study of districtwide SEL titled "2013-2014 Social Emotional Learning Update." A major finding: "Examinations of various program outcomes across SEL cohorts suggest that the longer schools have participated in SEL, the more positive the outcome." Download the update.
Joined CDI: 2011
Total Student Enrollment: 86,697
- Largest Racial/Ethnic Student Groups: Hispanic (60.2 percent) and White (24.9 percent)
- Economically Disadvantaged Students: 63.8 percent
- Students with Limited English Proficiency: 23.3 percent
- Students with Disabilities (Individualized Education Programs): 10.1 percent
Total Number of Schools: 129
- Elementary: 84
- Middle: 19
- High: 16
- Other Campuses: 10
SEL Web page: