SEL in Smaller Districts: The CASEL/DuPage County Regional Office of Education (ROE) Initiative
The majority of school districts in the U.S. are mid-sized or small. According to The National Center for Education Statistics, 87.2% of American districts serve student populations of 5,000 or less. These districts are not large enough to afford the economies of scale available to larger districts.
Given the limitations on 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 that would build district capacity and sustain social and emotional learning (SEL) in schools across the county.
This four-year 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 One, embedding SEL within practice and culture in Year Two, choosing and implementing an evidence-based SEL program in Year Three, and scaling and sustainability in Year Four. CASEL and the DuPage ROE leadership provide professional development and guidance as the model progresses, with targeted support based on needs assessments, observations, and feedback.
Now in its fourth year, the partnership is in 12 districts within DuPage County.
DuPage County/CASEL District Initiative Participants
Cohort One (2010-2011): West Chicago District 33—8 Pre-K -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 Pre-K-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 Pre-K-8 schools with 297.5 staff and 3,329 students.
Cohort Three (2012-2013): Queen Bee District 16—4 Pre-K -8 , with 117 certified staff and 1,915 students; Keeneyville District 20—3 Pre-K-8 EC Centers, 2 elementary and 1 middle schoolschools with 101 certified staff and 1,608 students; Wheaton District 200—20 Pre-K-12-schools with848 certified staff and 13,423 students.
Cohort Four (2013-2014): Glen Ellyn District 89—5 Pre-K-8 schools and 1,968 students; Naperville, District 203—22 Pre-K-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 Pre-K-8 with 3 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)—Pre-K-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. One recent example is the February 2014 meeting of the DuPage ROE/CASEL Professional Learning Community (PLC). The meeting offered examples and details of how three of the districts are implementing SEL at the district and school levels. Read more about the PLC meeting and view video segments from the presentations.
Noteworthy: A Video from the Wheaton/Warrenville School District
The Wheaton/Warrenville School District has produced a video that offers an overview of social and emotional learning and the districtwide approach to SEL implementation. The video was designed to be viewed by all district staff at the beginning of the 2014-15 school year. Click here to view.