Top-Down Social-Emotional Learning Standards Coming Our Way

Photo credit: Woodley Wonder WorksĀ (CC-By-2.0)
Photo credit: Woodley Wonder WorksĀ (CC-By-2.0)

Education Week reports that eight states plan to collaborate to encourage social-emotional learning in their schools.

Eight states will work collaboratively to create and implement plans to encourage social-emotional learning in their schools, theĀ Collaborative for Academic, Social, and Emotional Learning announced this month.

The organization, which is also known as CASEL, will assist the states through consultation with its own staff and a panel of experts. The participating states areĀ California, Georgia, Massachusetts, Minnesota, Nevada, Pennsylvania, Tennessee, and Washington. And an 11 additional states that originally applied to join the collaborative will have access to the materials it develops.

Each participating state has a unique plan, and many of those plans include creating developmentally sensitive standards that show how social and emotional skills are demonstrated at each grade level, developing materials to infuse traditional classroom concepts with social-emotional learning concepts, building strategies for state-level support, and implementing professional-development plans for schools about the subject.

Advocates for social-emotional learning hope the work, in particular the standards each state develops, will help answer “the whole question of how to align from the statehouse to the classroom,” said Roger Weissberg, the chief knowledge officer for CASEL.

“Having state standards helps inform districts, central offices, and boards of education what might be prioritized,” he said. “They can provide more guidance and help inform schools.”

What is social-emotional learning? CASEL defines it this way:

Social and emotional learning (SEL) is the process through which children 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.

Whatever happened to just teaching kids reading, writing and arithmetic (and science, social studies, etc.)? It appears that CASEL is the “Common Core State Standards Initiative” for SEL standards. Top-down social-emotional learning standards and policies coming to a local school near you, and something tells me they will probably bypass the statehouse with these standards as well.

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