DuPage County, IL
A Small District Model
Small districts across the country want to implement social and emotional learning, but often do not have the resources to do it alone. Twelve small districts outside Chicago can help.
Given the limited resources to implement SEL, the leadership of the DuPage County, Ill., Regional Office of Education (ROE) leveraged its existing partnership with CASEL (funded through a grant from NoVo Foundation) to collaborate on a model to build district capacity and sustain SEL in smaller schools across the county. These 12 districts are not large enough to afford the economies of scale available to larger districts. This is a common challenge. According to the National Center for Education Statistics, 87.2% of American districts serve student populations of 5,000 or less.
This multiyear initiative is grounded in CASEL’s emphasis on the creation of systemic changes leading to effective, sustainable, long-term implementation of SEL. The process involves engagement and planning in Year 1, embedding SEL within practice and culture in Year 2, choosing and implementing an evidence-based SEL program in Year 3, and scaling and sustainability in Year 4 and beyond. CASEL and the DuPage ROE leadership provide professional development and guidance as the process progresses, with targeted support based on needs assessments, observations, and feedback.
The work has unfolded gradually across five cohorts of schools:
- Cohort One (2010-2011): West Chicago District 33—8 PreK-8 schools with 319 certified staff and 4,242 students; Downers Grove District 59—13 K-8 schools with 352 certified staff and 4,925 students; Lisle District 202—4 PreK-12 schools with 147 certified staff and 1,560 students.
- Cohort Two (2011-2012): Medinah District 11—3 K-8 schools with 58 certified staff and 663 students; Hinsdale District 86—a district of two high schools that serve portions of seven diverse communities with 380 staff and 4,552 students; Villa Park district 45—8 PreK-8 schools with 297.5 staff and 3,329 students.
- Cohort Three (2012-2013): Queen Bee District 16—4 PreK -8 schools with 117 certified staff and 1,915 students; Keeneyville District 20—3 PreK-8 EC Centers, 2 elementary schools and 1 middle school with 101 certified staff and 1,608 students; Wheaton District 200—20 PreK-12-schools with 848 certified staff and 13,423 students.
- Cohort Four (2013-2014): Glen Ellyn District 89—5 PreK-8 schools and 1,968 students; Naperville, District 203—22 PreK-12 schools with an Early Childhood Center, 14 elementary schools and 2 high schools, 1,363 certified staff, and 17,563 students; Center Cass, District 66—3 PreK-8 schools and 1,041 students.
- Cohort Five (2014-2016): North DuPage Special Education Cooperative, provides services to 9 public school districts with a total student population of 15, 000 students. The Academic Life Skills Program serves students in K-12 grades. There is a transition program for ages 18-22 and a high-needs program at Lincoln Academy Therapeutic Day School. The partnership is focusing the SEL work at Lincoln Academy. Also: CCSD 93 (Bloomingdale, Carol Stream, Hanover Park)—PreK-8, including an Early Childhood Center, 6 elementary schools, and 2 middle schools with 3,834 students.
DuPage County offers a wide variety of approaches to successful implementation of SEL. For example, a professional learning community meeting in February 2014 offered examples and details of how three of the districts were implementing SEL at the district and school levels. Read more about the PLC meeting and view video segments from the presentations.
The Wheaton/Warrenville School District produced a video that offers an overview of SEL and the districtwide approach to implementation. The video was designed to be viewed by all district staff. The district’s work to create a model that is financially sustainable is featured here.
SEL in DuPage
Check out DuPage Regional Office of Education’s new partnership website on SEL.
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