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Current SEL Projects

Collaborating Districts Initiative: Given the importance of district-level leadership and coordination, in 2011 CASEL launched a national initiative aimed at supporting districts' capacities to promote SEL for all students. Called the Collaborating Districts Initiative (CDI), this effort recognizes that positive student outcomes depend on improving classrooms and schools, which in turn depends on improving district-wide capacities and conditions. The CDI includes eight districts:

The American Institutes for Research (AIR) serves as an external evaluator. The CDI is designed to achieve two complementary goals:

    1. To develop districts' capacities to plan, implement and monitor systemic changes that will impact schools and classrooms in ways that enhance students' social-emotional development and academic performace .

    2. To document lessons learned that can inform future efforts to support systemic SEL implementation in districts across the country.

SEL Program Reviews for Evidence-based Preschool to High School SEL Programs: As more schools commit to providing SEL to their students, the public needs guidance on what evidence-based SEL programming is available, the features of the highest quality approaches, and how to access them. With funding from the 1440 Foundation and the NoVo Foundation, CASEL and the UIC SEL Research Group are developing a series of in-depth reviews of SEL programing preschool through 12th grade that build on its tradition of providing educator and consumer guides. The 2013 Preschool and Elementary Guide was released in the fall 2012 and its companion, the 2014 Secondary Guide, will be released this spring.

The 2013 CASEL Guide: Effective Social and Emotional Learning Programs—Preschool and Elementary School Edition includes 23 CASEL SELect programs that:

  • Are well-designed classroom-based programs that systematically promote students’ social and emotional competence, provide opportunities for practice, and offer multi-year programming.
  • Deliver high-quality training and other implementation supports, including initial training and ongoing support to ensure sound implementation.
  • Are evidence-based with at least one carefully conducted evaluation that documents positive impacts on student behavior and/or academic performance
  • IES Researcher-Practitioner Grant to Create a SEL Indicator System: In July 2013, the Institute of Education Sciences (R305H130012) awarded CASEL and its partner Washoe County School District a “Researcher-Practitioner Partnerships in Education Research” grant. The goal of this project is to create a partnership process that enables the District and CASEL to conduct rigorous research on the social-emotional factors that promote student learning and achievement in order to create a robust and balanced system for monitoring elementary and secondary students. Such a system will enable the district to make empirically driven decisions about interventions to meet the needs of its students and be relevant to other districts nationwide. The initial aims of the research are (a) to develop reliable and valid teacher and student self-report SEL measures that are appropriate for use in educational decision making, (b) to validate these measures by examining how they are associated with academic outcomes, and (c) to examine whether these indicators reduce the impact of risk factors on student academic outcomes. Additional research aims will be developed over the course of the two-year grant by members of the partnership and the project will culminate in the development of an IES grant.

    Integrating SEL and Math Instruction: With funding from the Noyce Foundation, CASEL and the Charles A. Dana Center at the University of Texas at Austin are partnering with the Chicago Public Schools to explore the intersection of social and emotional learning (SEL) and the Common Core State Standards in Mathematics. This project focuses on tools and techniques to promote SEL in 8th and 9th grade algebra – which, for many students, represents a critical gateway to high school success. We believe that social and emotional skills such as persistence, collaboration, communication and perspective-taking will be key ingredients to success on the new standards – and like core content - can be taught and learned. This project aims to bring together CCSS-aligned instruction and SEL to create classrooms where students can develop the knowledge, skills, and dispositions to thrive in the modern economy. Over the course of the project, we will articulate and capture examples of high-quality “SEL-integrated” instruction. We are also working to develop and test tools to help teachers assess their own instructional practice and identify evidence of social and emotional skill development as part of formative mathematics assessments.

    SEL Assessment: Early Childhood Social and Emotional Assessment: This three-year collaborative effort is being co-directed by Dr. Roger P. Weissberg at the University of Illinois at Chicago (UIC) and Dr. Susanne Denham of George Mason University, and is co-sponsored by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, The Kirlin Charitable Foundation, the Rauner Family Foundation, and the University of Illinois at Chicago. The primary objective of this project is to identify, develop (where necessary) and disseminate information to educators and policy-makers about state-of–the-art assessment strategies for the social, emotional, and academic learning of preschool and elementary-school students.

    State Scan of Preschool to High School SEL Standards and Policies: In 2010 the Collaborative for Academic, Social, and Emotional Learning (CASEL) and the UIC SEL Research Group received funding from the Buena Vista Foundation to conduct a review of education standards relevant to SEL from early childhood through high school in all 50 states. Since 2010 CASEL and the UIC SEL Research Group have continued our work on standards and policies with funding from Buena Vista Foundation, 1440 Foundation, Einhorn Family Charitable Trust, and NoVo Foundation. Dr. Roger P. Weissberg and his research collaborators, including Dr. Katheryn Zinsser, are collaborating with Dr. Linda Dusenbury to complete this effort. Our goal is to support the development of high quality standards for SEL, preschool through high school, across the country. To that end, we have: (a) reviewed the research literature on learning standards generally to identify key components of high quality standards, and (b) assessed the status of each state (as of July, 2013) in the process of developing well-articulated learning standards for SEL, preschool through high school. We are also interested in understanding how and under what conditions effective SEL policies and standards are developed. Information gained from this project will assist education policy leaders in developing and supporting effective SEL standards and policies across the country. We are also working with the National Governors Association (NGA) and the Council of Chief State School Officers (CCSSO) to support their state partners engaged the process of developing standards for SEL. Over time we look forward to partnering directly with interested states to help develop high quality standards. To support all of these efforts, we are currently in the process of developing a set of “model” standards for SEL, drawing heavily on best examples of standards and resources to support standards from 50 states.

    Harnessing the Power of Youth Voice: The SEL Research Group has been in contact with school districts and initiatives supporting youth voice and the cultivation of SEL in educational spaces from around the nation. These efforts were mobilized in May of 2013 when a diverse group of young leaders gathered from around the Chicago area and presented at the CASEL Forum. These young leaders communicated a powerful message about the possibility youth voice could play in building the movement of SEL in education. We will use this site as a platform to highlight some of these initiatives, and share best practice in efforts where SEL and youth voice intersect. Once these groups have been highlighted, we plan to create webinars and use other social networking platforms to allow these young leaders, and their respective organizations, to begin alliance building. Once this alliance is forged, we envision working together to create possible conferences and other platforms where youth will take the lead on sharing artifacts and best practice with the SEL community. Roberto Rivera, UIC Predoctoral SEL Research Fellow and Top Young Change Agent (by the Search For Common Ground Coalition), will direct this effort. He believes that youth voice is the key to the SEL discourse community reaching its true potential. Check back monthly for spotlights on different organizations and their demonstration of youth voice taking forms such as videos, interviews, poetry/artwork, and more. If you know of an organization or program that serves as a good example of youth voice and SEL, please have them reach out to us at rriver27@uic.edu.