Social and Emotional Learning

SEL Gaining Substantial Traction in K–12

Social and emotional learning are making strides in K–12. According to a new study, more educators are aware of SEL and believe in its value for student academic success and wellbeing and see it as a tool that can be or has been helpful in transitioning back to in-person instruction.

The 2021 Social and Emotional Learning Report, from education publisher McGraw Hill, which was a follow-up to a study on SEL published in 2018, found that teachers are more aware now than they were in 2018 about their districts' plans for implementing SEL (91% compared with 77%). More than half of educators (56%) say their districts or schools have begin implementing SEL. And among administrators, more than double said they are implementing a standalone SEL program in their schools or districts (34% this year compared with 16% in 2018).

Educators are also very confident in the positive effects of SEL. According to the report:

  • 96% of educators reported they believe SEL will help reduce behavioral problems, notably bullying, (95%), disengagement (94%), safety-related issues (93%), poor relationships with teachers (91%) and the negative effects of transitioning from remote to in-person instruction (91%);

  • 91% indicated they believe it will help improve grades; and

  • 95% said it will help reduce emotional distress.

Parents also appear to be largely onboard with SEL. According to the report, 87% of parents say SEL is "important in helping children navigate today's world."

The complete report is freely available at

About the Author

David Nagel is the former editorial director of 1105 Media's Education Group and editor-in-chief of THE Journal, STEAM Universe, and Spaces4Learning. A 30-year publishing veteran, Nagel has led or contributed to dozens of technology, art, marketing, media, and business publications.

He can be reached at [email protected]. You can also connect with him on LinkedIn at .