Social Skills Improvement System (SSIS)

Elementary SELect Program

Program Design and Implementation Support

The Social Skills Improvement System (SSIS) program The Social Skills Improvement System (SSIS) Classwide Intervention Program is a social skills promotion program that uses free-standing SEL lessons and teaching practices for students in preschool through eighth grade. It is designed to be used by teachers, teacher’s aides, school counselors, or other educational professionals that work closely with students. The curriculum is organized into 10 skill units with a total of 30 lessons per grade band. Lessons are designed to be implemented in the classroom and delivered three times per week over the course of ten weeks. Lessons focus on interpersonal skills, including listening to others, asking for help, and staying calm with others. While SSIS has limited emphasis on the promotion of students’ self-awareness and self-management, when taught in conjunction with the SSIS SEL edition, the program provides learning around all five social-emotional competencies. The SSIS SEL edition is a flexible curriculum that includes 23 units designed for use with students ages 4 to 14.

All units are taught using a six-step process that includes teacher modeling and coaching, student role plays, skills practice, self- and teacher-monitoring of student progress, and generalization. Teachers use “Skill Step” cue cards to prompt students to reflect on their SEL skills and to help students generalize what they are learning beyond the lessons and throughout the school day. Resources provided also include a teacher’s guide, video clips that depict positive and negative models of social behavior in school settings, and student booklets

Implementation Support

The SSIS Classwide Intervention Program (SSIS CIP) and the SEL addition (SSIS SEL) both primarily use a self-training model where all implementers are expected to have their own SSIS CIP Teacher’s Guide. This guide is comprised of four focused chapters – Chapter 1 Introduction; Chapter 2 Instructional Components; Chapter 3 Student Assessment and Program Evaluation Components; and Chapter 4 Instructional Overview – and Lesson Scripts for the 10 skill units. Virtual coaching or an on-site training from the program provider are also available upon request. While available training and support are optional, CASEL views implementation support as a critical part of our inclusion criteria, and we include this program with the hope that schools using SSIS would seek training from the developers.

In regard to the SSIS SEL program, there are online webinars posted at the Pearson Assessment site that provide expert advice and detailed guidance for using the assessments and interventions. SSIS also offers SEL Leadership Academies to teams of five or six school members who want to create an entire multi-tiered support system that is district or schoolwide.

Resources to support implementation and assessment include tools for teacher and student self-reflection, along with tools for teachers to monitor student progress and a student performance screening guide.

Evidence of Effectiveness

Results from two randomized control trials published in 2015 and 2017 support the effectiveness of the SSIS curriculum for elementary students. The two evaluations were conducted in the same six schools and included 1,160 students in first grade and second grade (White = 71%, Black = 21%). Results indicated that students who participated in the program exhibited positive social behaviors across the domains of communication, cooperation, assertion, responsibility, empathy, and social engagement, more frequently than students in the control group. In addition, students who participated in the program exhibited fewer internalizing problem behaviors, and self-reported greater levels of academic motivation and academic engagement compared to students in the control group. These differences were reported four to five months after baseline and were statistically significant while controlling for outcome pretest and other baseline attributes.


DiPerna, J. C., Lei, P., Cheng, W., Hart, S. C., & Bellinger, J. (2017). A Cluster Randomized Trial of the Social Skills Improvement System-Classwide Intervention Program (SSIS-CIP) in First Grade. Journal of Educational Psychology. Advance online publication. http://dx.doi.org/10.1037/edu0000191
DiPerna, J. C., Lei, P., Bellinger, J., & Cheng, W. (2015). Efficacy of the Social Skills Improvement System Classwide Intervention Program (SSIS-CIP) primary version. School Psychology Quarterly, 30(1), 123.