CASEL Guide: Preschool and Elementary Edition

  • The CASEL Guide: Effective Social and Emotional Learning Programs—Preschool and Elementary School Edition has four goals:

    • To provide a systematic framework for evaluating the quality of classroom-based social and emotional learning (SEL) programs;
    • To apply this framework to rate and identify well-designed, evidence-based SEL programs with potential for broad dissemination to schools across the United States;
    • To share best-practice guidelines for district and school teams on how to select and implement SEL programs; and
    • To offer recommendations for future priorities to advance SEL research, practice, and policy

    CASEL published its first review of SEL programs almost fourteen years ago. We strongly recommend that schools use evidence-based classroom SEL programs as a core component of their efforts to promote students’ social, emotional, and academic learning. When implemented well, these programs have a documented record of significantly improving school climate as well as students’ behavior and academic performance. Many SEL programs are available to schools, but not all of them have been carefully evaluated to determine their quality and impact. This Guide highlights effective programs—we call them “CASEL SELect”—and provides information for educators on how to select and implement them.

    CASEL views this Guide as a valuable resource for educational leaders and teams aspiring to implement research-based approaches to promote students’ social-emotional development and academic performance. It provides educators with objective information about nationally available multi-year programs for general education classrooms. If your district or school is just beginning work in this area, the Guide will help in your planning and selection of strong, evidence-based programs that serve your students’ needs. If you are seeking to deepen practice you have already begun, the Guide will help you reflect on and augment your efforts. The Guide will also be helpful to program developers who seek to improve their SEL programs, researchers who evaluate SEL programs, and policymakers who want to encourage the use of best educational practices.

    Guide chapters are available to the right, along with the application for a program to reviewed, the list of programs included in the Guide, and more. Note: any programs selected after 2013 will not be in the PDF, but will be on the webpage.


CASEL takes pride in collaborating with colleagues to advance academic, social, and emotional learning. We are extremely grateful to NoVo Foundation and the 1440 Foundation for their generous support of this effort. We want to express our sincere appreciation to the CASEL Board of Directors for providing the leadership, commitment, constructive critiques, and enthusiasm that drive our work. A team of colleagues at CASEL and the University of Illinois at Chicago Social and Emotional Learning Research Group produced this guide. Special thanks goes to Linda Dusenbury who served as project director and supported the writing team, the consultants who worked on CASEL’s Collaborating Districts Initiative reviewed and commented on a preliminary draft of the Guide, Hank Resnick who served as editor, and KSA Plus Communications who designed and published the report. We remain grateful to the developers of the programs featured in this Guide for their submissions and responsiveness to our requests for materials and background information. We salute the program providers’ efforts to bring academic, social, and emotional learning into classrooms and schools at scale. The 2013 CASEL Guide and its previous version, Safe and Sound: An Educational Leader’s Guide to Evidence-Based Social and Emotional Learning (SEL) Programs (CASEL, 2003), have been inspired by the late Mary Utne O’Brien. Mary’s commitment to improving the lives of all children through the development of academic, social, and emotional skills and competencies is remembered and modeled daily at CASEL. We dedicate this Guide to her passion and spirit.