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SEL Research & Policy

**Garcia, E., & Weiss, E. (2016). Making whole-child education the norm: How research and policy initiatives can make social and emotional skills a focal point of children’s education. Washington, DC: Economic Policy Institute. Available at

This report emphasizes the impact of noncognitive skills—including self-control, problem-solving, cooperation, focus, and creativity— on student outcomes in school and beyond, and provides evidence-based key steps for policy and practice. Though cited research finds strong relationships between noncognitive and cognitive skills, the latter currently dominates discussions about curriculum and education policy. The authors highlight an association between advanced noncognitive skills and positive life outcomes, such as increased productivity in the workplace, civic engagement, and strong familial relationships. They also cite research that links the lack of these skills, in contrast, to multiple negative outcomes, including substance dependence and poor mental health. The authors argue for increased recognition and integration of noncognitive skills through policies that define which skills educators can best incorporate into the school environment; develop measures to accurately quantify student progress; broaden existing curricula to promote noncognitive skills; enhance teacher training to incorporate these skills throughout the school day; and revamp school disciplinary policies. The authors advocate for the combination of these key steps with new policies requiring assessment and accountability systems that explicitly measure and incentivize progress with noncognitive skill development. 

**Collaborative for Academic, Social, and Emotional Learning. (2016). SEL impact. Available at

This Collaborative for Academic, Social, and Emotional Learning (CASEL) webpage highlights some of the research on connections between social and emotional learning (SEL) and student outcomes. For example, a meta-analysis found that students involved in SEL programs showed more growth in academic and interpersonal/non-cognitive outcomes than students who were not in SEL programs. Other research suggests that there are positive equity, health, and economic implications for students that learn social and emotional skills, and that overall, teachers support further SEL integration in their classrooms. For direct access to the research reports highlighted, visit

American Institutes for Research. (2016). Does deeper learning improve student outcomes? Results from the study of deeper learning: Opportunities and outcomes. Washington, DC: American Institutes for Research. Available at

The term “deeper learning” refers to approaches that combine academic and social-emotional learning to develop a range of cognitive, interpersonal (communication and collaboration) and intra-personal (mindsets and self-regulation) competencies needed for success in the 21st century.  This brief summarizes key findings from a study of schools participating in ten networks with distinct approaches to fostering deeper learning.  Students in such schools experienced greater learning opportunities and demonstrated higher outcomes on assessments of deeper learning competencies as well as on high school graduation and matriculation in four-year colleges. Additionally, students in deeper learning schools reported stronger noncognitive competencies in some areas, such as self-efficacy, motivation to learn, and collaboration skills.

Kendziora, K., & Yoder, N. (2016). When districts support and integrate social and emotional learning (SEL). Washington, DC: American Institutes for Research. Available at

Using findings from an ongoing evaluation of the Collaborating Districts Initiative (CDI), this policy brief explores why SEL is important, considerations for district-wide SEL implementation in large urban districts, and evidence on how SEL results in district improvement for students and overall school climate. Through the CDI, participating districts worked with CASEL to implement tools such as SEL professional learning, SEL standards, and continuous improvement cycles towards SEL improvement. Results from this study show that districts involved in the CDI reported decreased suspension rates and GPA improvements. Other findings were mixed (e.g. standardized test scores, students’ self-reported SEL skills) but will continue to be areas for exploration as the evaluation continues. The authors conclude with a set of recommendations for state and district leaders to integrate SEL into students’ academic experiences. Although more research is needed to understand how SEL leads to improved outcomes, the authors argue that the potential benefits to students may outweigh the costs of continuing SEL work.

CORE Districts. (n.d.). CORE is part of the national dialogue on including social emotional skills in multiple measure approaches to school quality [2015 CORE Districts SEL data]. Available at

This PowerPoint presentation contains some of the most compelling findings from the CORE Districts’ full-scale field test of their student survey (one component of the School Quality Improvement Index) in spring 2015, which included social-emotional and culture-climate measures, many of which point to important equity considerations. For example, SEL skills appear to change across grade levels, and striking differences in self-efficacy between males and females may merit closer scrutiny. Other data compare the intersections of race and class. Although SEL competencies among white students living in poverty and African-American students not living in poverty were similar in some areas (e.g. growth mindset, self-efficacy), others were not. Whites living in poverty reported higher levels of self-management and social awareness than African-American and Hispanic/Latinos not living in poverty. We will learn more about the CORE Districts work during their presentation at the meeting.

**This document is considered a priority reading.