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August 20, 2018
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JP O'Hare

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As Back-To-School Season Approaches, New Social Emotional Learning Guidance & Resources Available for Schools

Materials Support New York’s ESSA Plan Priorities and
Promote a Positive School Climate

With back-to-school season approaching, new guidance and resources to implement Social Emotional Learning (SEL) benchmarks, policies and programs are now available for school districts, State Education Commissioner MaryEllen Elia announced today.

“When emphasis is placed on educating the whole child, we help our youth be successful in all parts of life – from academics to interpersonal relationships to making good life choices,” Board of Regents Chancellor Betty A. Rosa said. “Acquiring social and emotional skills will prove to be invaluable as our children grow. Now we have resources available for schools across New York to help students obtain these vital skills.”

“Using these new social emotional learning benchmarks and frameworks, schools can implement practices to help our students reduce emotional distress, increase commitment to school, bolster academic achievement, and decrease disruptive behavior,” Commissioner Elia said. “By supporting students both on a social emotional level and an academic level, we provide students with interpersonal skills and a sense of well-being that will help them succeed academically.”

According to the Collaborative for Academic, Social, and Emotional Learning (CASEL), 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.”

Research shows that students who received SEL instruction exhibited the following results:

  • achievement scores are 11-13 points higher;
  • improved attitudes and behaviors, including motivation to learn, commitment to school, and engagement in the classroom;
  • fewer negative behaviors, including disruptive classroom behaviors, non-compliance, aggression, and disciplinary referrals; and
  • reduced emotional stress, including student depression, anxiety, and social withdrawal.

The resources outline benchmarks and frameworks for educators to implement Social Emotional Learning practices in their schools and classrooms. Now available on NYSED’s website are the New York State Social Emotional Learning Benchmarks for voluntary implementation and Social Emotional Learning: Essential for Learning, Essential for Life,  a framework explaining SEL concepts, and the need for and benefit of SEL in NY.

NYSED staff has conducted numerous trainings on the new guidance at conferences over the summer and is planning additional trainings in New York City, the Capital Region and Rochester early next year.

In addition, NYSED is continuing to develop additional resources to support SEL implementation, including guidance for systemic whole school implementation and district-developed resources aligning SEL competencies, academic standards, classroom activities and general teaching practices. These resources are expected to be available later this year.

As a strategy to promote equity in education for all children, social emotional learning is a key component in the Board and Department’s work through participating in the New York State Safe Schools Task Force, implementing New York’s Every Student Succeeds Act (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 SEL.

Further, 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 SEL 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 School Climate and Student Engagement Workgroup of the New York State Safe Schools Task Force identified the following goals to guide SEL benchmarks for New York State schools:

  1. Develop self-awareness and self-management skills essential to success in school and in life;
  2. Use social awareness and interpersonal skills to establish and maintain positive relationships; and
  3. Demonstrate ethical decision-making skills and responsible behaviors in personal, school, and community contexts.

The new resources outlining benchmarks and frameworks for educators to implement Social Emotional Learning practices in their schools and classrooms are now available on NYSED’s website.

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