Outcomes Associated with the Five Competencies

The short-term goals of SEL programs are to: one, promote students’ self-awareness, self- management, social-awareness, relationship, and responsible decision-making skills; and two, improve student attitudes and beliefs about self, others, and school.

These, in turn, provide a foundation for better adjustment and academic performance as reflected in more positive social behaviors and peer relationships, fewer conduct problems, less emotional distress, and improved grades and test scores.

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There is a growing awareness in the U.S. among educators and policymakers about the importance of social and emotional development for successful student performance in preschool and elementary school. The five sets of SEL competencies are important from very early in life but are especially relevant as children begin to spend time with adults outside the home and to socialize with peers.

Social and emotional skills play a role in determining how well-equipped children will be to meet the demands of the classroom. They also help determine whether students are able to engage fully in learning and benefit from instruction. 

Powerful Evidence Supporting the Impact of Enhancing Students' SEL

Research shows that SEL can have a positive impact on school climate and promote a host of academic, social, and emotional benefits for students. Durlak, Weissberg et al.'s recent meta-analysis of 213 rigorous studies of SEL in schools indicates that students receiving quality SEL instruction demonstrated:

  • better academic performance: achievement scores an average of 11 percentile points higher than students who did not receive SEL instruction;
  • improved attitudes and behaviors: greater motivation to learn, deeper commitment to school, increased time devoted to schoolwork, and better classroom behavior;
  • fewer negative behaviors: decreased disruptive class behavior, noncompliance, aggression, delinquent acts, and disciplinary referrals; and
  • reduced emotional distress: fewer reports of student depression, anxiety, stress, and social withdrawal.