Policy Recommendations

Social and emotional learning (SEL) is gaining significant traction in federal and state policy. Members of Congress from both parties have introduced or supported pending legislation that includes social and emotional learning. Rep. Tim Ryan (D-Ohio) introduced two new bills in the spring of 2017 with bipartisan cosponsorship. H.R. 1864 addresses chronic absenteeism and ways to prevent it. Many states are focusing on chronic absenteeism as one of the indicators of school improvement under the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA). H.R. 2544 looks at ways to reduce teacher stress, an important factor in students’ success.

Meanwhile, more and more states are adopting PreK-12 social and emotional learning standards that outline what students should know and be able to do in terms of social and emotional competence. Through the Collaborating States Initiative CASEL is helping multiple states strengthen their policies and initiatives. The federal Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA) encourages states to consider other indicators, including those related to SEL, in their accountability plans. Read our brief. Watch our webinar.

Still, much more can be done. CASEL is collaborating with many partners to expand the presence of SEL in federal and state policy nationwide. Our priorities are outlined below. CASEL and other collaborators in the field of social and emotional learning—such as national foundations, prominent scholars, district superintendents, and the many high-quality SEL program providers at work in schools around the country—will provide support in the effort to advance these recommended policies.

Statewide PreK-12 Social and Emotional Learning Goals, Standards, and Guidelines

A growing number of states have developed and adopted social and emotional learning standards, goals, or competencies. Most have standards in place for prekindergarten and more are instituting them at the PreK-12 level.

There have been three different approaches to developing K-12 learning standards for social and emotional learning. Some states have developed free-standing, comprehensive standards or goals for social and emotional learning. Other states have developed clearly articulated standards that are focused on a particular aspect of social and emotional learning. The majority of states integrate learning goals that are relevant to social and emotional learning into other academic content areas.

Visit our State Policy and Standards page for up-to-date information about the status of SEL standards nationwide.

Going Forward

Further strengthening state and federal policies is one of the central priorities of CASEL’s strategic plan. We will continue to help develop model state standards and implementation guidelines, as well as increase federal support for SEL research and practice. Funding will help us and collaborating researchers continue to document and share what works. And incentives will provide the financial support districts need to scale up quality SEL in all aspects of their work—from setting budgets to supporting teachers.