Current CASEL Research

  • Our current research addresses key questions about implementing SEL in classrooms, schools, districts, and states, including assessing students’ social and emotional competence.

    Creating and Using Quality Assessments

    Our Assessment Work Group is a multiyear effort to make key advancements in student social and emotional (SE) competence. The work group is focused on four main goals: (1) provide practical and timely information to educators about selecting and effectively using currently available SE assessments; (2) demonstrate alignment and distinctions between existing SE frameworks; (3) identify and disseminate key design principles that guide researchers and developers in creating practical and informative SE performance measures; and (4) collaborate with, coordinate with, and learn from ongoing related efforts in the field of SE assessment in order to maximize impact and avoid duplication of efforts.

    CASEL is also advancing SE competence assessment in a long-term collaboration with the Washoe County School District in Reno, Nevada, which is supported by a researcher-practitioner grant from the Institute of Education Sciences (IES). Together, CASEL and Washoe County partnered to improve and validate student self-report measures of social and emotional knowledge and skills. Several other CDI districts are planning to use this new version of the student rating. The states of Alaska and Nevada also are planning to use it with students statewide. This presentation by Washoe County describes this work and initial findings. The project will culminate with innovative ways to measure students’ social and emotional competence and strategies for how districts can use this information to improve students’ performance and behavior.

    Collaborating with States on SEL Guidelines and Related Policies

    In 2016 CASEL launched a two-year Collaborating States’ Initiative to partner with states in developing policies, learning standards, and guidelines for statewide implementation of SEL. This work began in 2003 when CASEL collaborated with the Illinois State Board of Education, educators, researchers, and child advocates to develop the Illinois preschool to high school SEL student learning standards. In 2010 we initiated a comprehensive scan of state standards across the country. Updated findings from the CASEL State Scan and related publications are available here. These resources identify the key elements, based on research, of high-quality standards in SEL, preschool through high school, and assess progress in developing SEL standards in all 50 states.

    Continuing to Learn from our Collaborating Districts

    Quality classroom and school programming that has the best, most positive impact on students requires district support. In 2010 CASEL launched the Collaborating Districts Initiative (CDI), a partnership with eight large urban districts to implement systemic SEL, which has been evaluated by the American Institutes for Research (AIR). Findings to date demonstrate that implementation is feasible, and early student outcome data is positive. This 2015 executive summary summarizes recent findings from the AIR research.

    Helping Schools Implement Research-Based Practices

    The best way to promote students’ social and emotional learning is through comprehensive, systemic, schoolwide approaches. In partnership with several diverse, large urban districts implementing systemic SEL, CASEL has developed a Theory of Action for districts incorporating SEL into every aspect of the school day. CASEL is also developing guides for districts and schools around the theory of action. In addition, with support from the U.S. Department of Education, CASEL is testing the impact of schoolwide SEL programming.

    Helping Educators Select High-Quality Programs

    At the classroom level, educators want to know what programs will promote social and emotional competence in their students. To address this, CASEL develops and publishes reviews of evidence-based SEL programs, most notably the 2013 CASEL Guide: Effective Social and Emotional Learning Programs — Preschool and Elementary School Edition and the 2015 CASEL Guide: Effective Social and Emotional Learning Programs — Middle and High School Edition. These consumer-friendly guides identify school-based programs that incorporate SEL practices in the classroom and help teach social and emotional skills to students.

  • Research in Action: Washoe County, Nev.

    The Reno-area school district found a 21-point difference in math scores and a 20-point difference in English-Language Arts (ELA) scores between students with low and high social and emotional competencies.


    Learn more.

    Research in Action: Collaborating States Initiative

    Lessons learned from Illinois’ work to develop the nation’s first set of statewide K-12 SEL standards.

    Learn more.

    Research in Action: Tools

    Staff surveys, an SEL Assessment Toolkit, and practical advice for creating a supportive school climate are among the many resources schools are using.

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    Research in Action: Oakland, Nashville, Chicago

    Oakland’s model SEL board policy, Nashville’s “I Can” standards, and Chicago’s site-visit walk-through are among the tools and resources our partner districts have developed to turn research into action.

    Learn more.