Reports & Guidance

Ready to Lead

A 2019 Update of Principals’ Perspectives on How Social and Emotional Learning Can Prepare Children and Transform Schools

October 1, 2019

Principal understanding and support of the key tenets of SEL are critical for adopting and implementing effective strategies and programs. To what extent are they supportive?

In a follow-up of our 2017 survey of this key stakeholder group, produced for us by Civic and Hart Research Associates, more than 700 K-12 principals were surveyed. Key findings show that principals stand ready to bring systemic, schoolwide SEL to their schools, but they need more support from state and district leaders.
  • Principals continue to see SEL skills as highly teachable and a priority in their schools. Eighty three percent believe it’s “very important” to promote SEL and 99% believe SEL skills are teachable.
  • Principals have made progress in implementing several SEL benchmarks, such as:
    • Having a long-term plan: 55%, up from 43% in 2017
    • Having a clear SEL vision statement: 55%, up from 45%
    • Using an evidence-based SEL program: 53%, up from 40%
  • While urban and suburban schools have made notable progress implementing SEL, small town and rural schools continue to lag significantly behind the rest of the country.
  • Principals and teachers are assessing SEL skills at much higher rates, but more work is needed to ensure SEL is systemic across schools and districts. For example, 83% of principals report using some kind of SEL assessment, but fewer than half believe the measures are useful.

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