Key insights from new CASEL report

Yesterday, CASEL released its latest report, titled: “Respected: Perspectives of Youth on High School & Social and Emotional Learning.”

Authored by Civic and Hart Research Associates (and sponsored by The Allstate Foundation), the 48-page research brief discusses how although students understand the benefits of their schools integrating social-emotional learning into the curriculum, the majority believe that SEL is a key missing piece of their educational experiences.

“Students are telling us there’s a big missing piece in their education,” John Bridgeland, CEO of Civic and co-author of the report, said during a press conference.

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After reviewing the full report, here are my top takeaways:

(1) This report should serve as a major wake-up call for educators and SEL practitioners. A whopping 77% of the 1,300 high school students surveyed nationally as part of this project believe that their high schools could have done a better job of helping them to hone their SEL skills. Only 48% of recent graduates felt prepared for success after high school, and even less (41%) felt prepared for a job or career post-graduation. Social and emotional learning remains a big missing piece in high school education.

(2) Students want schools that truly invest in their social and emotional development. Students — like teachers, parents, and administrators — understand the benefits of attending schools that emphasize SEL, especially in terms of improving relationships, reducing bullying, and preparing them for postsecondary education, work, and life. They understand the impact that stress, loneliness, and a lack of confidence have on their young brains. Over 70% said that attending an SEL school appeals to them and that doing so would help them personally.

“To those reading this survey, know that behind every data point is the story of a student who was brave enough to give voice to his or her own experiences and struggles. We want to thank them in joining our call in asking for more support from our schools as we go forth to accomplish our dreams.” — Youth Commissioners, Aspen Institute National Commission on Social, Emotional, and Academic Development

(3) Vulnerable students feel especially impacted by social and emotional problems in school. Hispanic students are significantly less likely to report feeling physically safe in their high schools (67%) when compared to their African American (76%) or White (83%) peers. Students from below-average-income backgrounds are less likely to feel physically safe (63%) and more likely to be bullied (40%) in school than their more privileged peers. They are also less likely to feel comfortable participating in school or excited about learning.

(4) Schools that are investing in SEL are better preparing their students. 83 percent of graduates from “high SEL schools” (e.g., schools that are integrating SEL into the curriculum at high levels) believe they were set up for future success, compared to only 13 percent of graduates from the so-called “low SEL schools.”

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(5) We need to listen. The voices of students should continue to be included in the research agenda. Their opinions and experiences are a vital part of creating SEL implementation guidelines, valid assessment tools, and training methods for teachers. Students should be part of the decision-making process, not just recipients of adults’ decisions.

“This report is a wake-up call to all of us, especially business leadrs. Think about the national landscape and how critical it is to get along with others who have different beliefs. Belonging, inclusion, compassion–it makes them better, more effective human beings.” — Vicky Dinges, Allstate Foundation

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