Social Emotional Learning Guidance To Be Released

New guidance and resources will soon be available for school districts to support implementation of social emotional learning benchmarks, policies and programs.

The state Education Department presented the materials to the Board of Regents recently at its meeting in Albany.

“The Board of Regents places an emphasis on educating the whole child,” said Betty A. Rosa, Board of Regents chancellor. “To be successful in today’s society, children’s learning needs to go beyond academics and include acquiring the social and emotional skills to have successful relationships, understand and work through emotions, and make good life choices.”

“Studies show high-quality, evidence-based social emotional learning programs can help children reduce emotional distress, decrease disruptive behavior, increase commitment to school, and bolster academic achievement,” said Mary Ellen Elia, state education commissioner. “Our ESSA plan recognizes the value of supporting students both on a social emotional level and an academic level. We hope schools will use these resources to expand student learning to interpersonal skills and well-being.”

According to the Collaborative for Academic, Social, and Emotional Learning, social emotional learning “is the process through which children, youth and adults acquire and effectively apply the knowledge, attitudes and skills necessary to: understand and manage emotions; set and achieve positive goals; feel and show empathy for others; establish and maintain positive relationships; and make responsible decisions.”

As a strategy to promote equity in education for all children, social emotional learning is a key component in the Board of Regents and state Education Department’s work through participating in the New York State Safe Schools Task Force, implementing New York’s ESSA plan, developing a School Climate Index and providing resources to support mental health education in schools.

In August 2016, the CASEL identified New York as one of nine states to participate in Cohort II of the Collaborating States Initiative to advance policies, guidelines and standards for preschool to high school for social emotional learning. New York state’s recently approved ESSA Plan placed an emphasis on the importance of social emotional development and well-being. Fostering the development of social emotional learning competencies for all students and adults in schools and communities supports the ESSA Plan priorities to improve academic achievement and graduation rates, improve school climate, and increase educational equity.

Research suggests that social emotional learning benchmarks for students may increase the likelihood that students will receive better instruction in social emotional learning, experience improved school connectedness, and become better learners. The New York State Safe Schools Task Force identified the following goals to guide SEL benchmarks for New York State schools:

¯ Develop self-awareness and self-management skills essential to success in school and in life;

¯ Use social awareness and interpersonal skills to establish and maintain positive relationships; and

¯ Demonstrate ethical decision-making skills and responsible behaviors in personal, school and community contexts.

Department staff will incorporate feedback from the Board of Regents into a series of guidance documents, distribute these resources to the field, and post them on the state Education Department website by June 30.