• Although a comprehensive focus on social and emotional learning (SEL) is new to Atlanta Public Schools, Superintendent Meria Carstarphen has been committed to SEL and supporting the needs of the whole child for many years. After successfully implementing a districtwide SEL strategy in her previous district, in 2016 she brought a similar focus to Atlanta.

    SEL in Atlanta

    During the 2015-16 school year schools in the Carver Cluster, the South Atlanta Cluster, and all middle schools began embedding SEL into their academic day and school culture. Elementary schools in these clusters, along with all preschools and all middle schools, implement the Second Step curriculum in all homerooms. At each school Positive Behavior Support (PBS) teams are working with district-level SEL coaches and the SEL coordinator to ensure SEL is woven throughout the students’ daily experience.

    Another demonstration of district commitment to SEL is the inclusion of SEL in the recently shared Turnaround Strategy. As Atlanta makes needed changes to ensure significant academic growth and achievement to turn its schools around, SEL has become a key component in the comprehensive plan to improve schools and the lives of students.

    Starting in FY 2017 the district will place SEL, PBIS, and Restorative Practices under one SEL umbrella. Atlanta intends to weave the strengths of these three approaches into one comprehensive plan to improve the culture and climate of its schools.

    SEL will roll out to additional clusters each school year, with full district implementation by 2018.

  • Meria Carstarphen, Ed.D.

    Atlanta Public Schools



    51,145 students

    • 76% low-income
    • 3% English language learners
    • 9% with disabilities

    75 schools

    Superintendent Meria Carstarphen blogs about what she’s seeing in schools.

    The district’s Twitter feed provides regular updates on what SEL looks like in practice.