Study Boosts Link between Social-Emotional Learning and Academics
- By Dian Schaffhauser
idea that students who get help in developing their social-emotional
skills do better academically received a boost in a multi-state
research found "statistically significant and consistent
relationships" between students' social-emotional skills and
their academic outcomes in grades three to 10, with a heightened
connection in grade 9.
study was a joint project of City
and the Everyone
Hopkins University's School of Education.
City Year advances educational equity by deploying teams of young
adults to serve as AmeriCorps members in public schools across the
country. The nonprofit works with high schools with low graduation
rates and the middle and elementary schools that feed into them.
About 90 percent of students in the partner schools qualify for free
or reduced lunch status and are students of color. The Everyone
Graduates Center focuses on how to keep students on the path to high
school graduation and better prepared for college, career and civic
Year's work in schools includes such components as:
and small group instruction in English and math with SEL embedded
into the lessons;
of data to monitor student progress and better cater lessons;
group SEL sessions; and
day" activities, such as after-school programming, help with
homework, enrichment activities and civic projects that serve the
years ago, in August 2018, City Year received funding from the Bill
& Melinda Gates Foundation
to collaborate with the Center in studying the links between
social-emotional learning and academic performance and achievement of
students in City Year schools during the 2017-2018 school year.
According to the authors, the study was one of the first in the field
of education to examine the correlation of social-emotional and
academic skills through a large scale, multi-city, multi-grade
dataset focused on systemically under-resourced schools. The dataset
included information on 38,131 students in grades three through 10 in
326 schools in 28 cities across 20 states, including how much time
they spent with AmeriCorps members, academic outcomes measured by
class grades and test scores, attendance and social-emotional
learning (SEL) strengths (assessed through the Devereux
Student Strengths Assessment (DESSA)).
study found that the more time students spent with City Year
AmeriCorps members working on English language arts and math, the
better they performed in that subject, the higher their attendance
rates and the better their social-emotional outcomes. As a report on
the results noted, "This shows that intentional holistic efforts
can have multiple benefits and can impact academics, attendance and
social emotional outcomes."
report added that the positive outcomes suggested that the focus on
those specific practices "cultivate a learning environment in
which students have strong relationships, feel trust and have a sense
of belonging." Likewise, the research also supported the notion
that social-emotional skills are "malleable"--they "can
be learned, and students can build upon and acquire new skills within
a single academic year."
report also detailed a three-step process that others can use "as
next steps to creating a more integrated approach to social,
emotional and academic development in classrooms and schools."
15-page summary report is openly available on
the City Year website.
The analysis by the Everyone Graduates Center is openly available on
that organization's website.
About the Author
Dian Schaffhauser is a former senior contributing editor for 1105 Media's education publications THE Journal, Campus Technology and Spaces4Learning.