Benefits of SEL

The research documenting the impact of SEL is compelling.

  • More than two decades of research demonstrates that education promoting social and emotional learning (SEL) gets results. The findings come from multiple fields and sources, including student achievement, neuroscience, health, employment, psychology, classroom management, learning theory, economics, and the prevention of youth problem behaviors.


Hear from our CEO: Updated SEL Definition (Dec 2020)

SEL interventions that address CASEL’s five core competencies increased students’ academic performance by 11 percentile points, compared to students who did not participate in such SEL programs. Students participating in SEL programs also showed improved classroom behavior, an increased ability to manage stress and depression, and better attitudes about themselves, others, and school. Read the 2011 meta-analysis of 213 studies involving 270,000+ students. Read a 2019 summary of the practical benefits of SEL that answer questions such as “Should we use this program in my school?” and “Would this new program really be helpful or worthwhile for our students?”

SEL programming can have a positive impact up to 18 years later on academics, conduct problems, emotional distress, and drug use. Read the 2017 meta-analysis of 82 research studies involving 100,000 students worldwide.


11:1 Return on Investment

imageThe average return on investment for six evidence-based programs is 11 to 1, meaning for every dollar invested there is an $11 return. Read the 2015 review from Columbia University.


Can Help Reduce Poverty, Improve Economic Mobility

SEL competencies are critically important for the long-term success of all students in today’s economy. A bipartisan 2015 report recommends several steps to scale up high-quality, evidence-based SEL programs as a core component of children’s education. Read the report from American Enterprise Institute and Brookings Institution.


Improves Lifetime Outcomes

imageThere are statistically significant associations between SEL skills in kindergarten and key outcomes for young adults years later. SEL decreased the likelihood of living in or being on a waiting list for public housing, receiving public assistance, having any involvement with police before adulthood, and ever spending time in a detention facility. Read the 2015 national study published in the American Journal of Public Health.

Support for SEL is Strong…

  • From Young People

    They see the benefits of attending schools that emphasize SEL. But most current and recent high school students  believe their schools could have done better.

    Read the 2018 report.

    Read the press release.

    From Principals

    They say SEL is essential but want more guidance, training, and support. Top priorities: more training for teachers and greater access to research-based strategies for developing SEL in students.

    Read the 2019 update to the report (exec summary).

    Read the 2017 report (exec summary).

    From Educators

    A survey of 762 educators from 15 countries by The Economist Intelligence Unit found 80% of educators believe positive emotions are critical for academic success, emotional well-being is crucial for developing foundational literacies and communication skills.

    Read the survey.

    From the Public

    A 2017 PDK poll found the public believes teaching skills such as cooperation, respect, and problem-solving are the most important factor in school quality.

    From Scientists

    A consensus brief from the National Commission on Social, Emotional, and Academic Development shows a wide range of scientists agree: SEL matters, is doable, and has an impact.

    Read the 2017 brief.

    From Teachers

    A survey of teachers commissioned by CASEL found 93% of teachers want a greater focus on SEL in schools. They agree that social and emotional skills are teachable and are calling for schools to prioritize the integration of SEL learning practices and strategies.

    Read the 2013 report.

    From Parents

    81% of parents believe that SEL is just as important as academic learning, according to the 2018 Social and Emotional Learning Report from McGraw-Hill Education/Morning Consult.

    Read the 2018 study.

    From Employers

    Six of the Top 10 skills identified by the World Economic Forum involve social and emotional competence. In another survey, 92% of surveyed executives say skills such as problem-solving and communicating clearly are equal to or more important than technical skills. Companies such as Allstate, Bank of America, and Google are prioritizing SEL.

    Read more from a 2016 congressional briefing.

  • Looking for more resources?

    Making the Case for SEL

    Need to make a compelling case on the benefits of SEL for your stakeholders? This PowerPoint from CASEL brings together powerful scientific evidence of the benefits of SEL and survey results that reflect the growing demand for SEL from all sectors. Presented in easy-to-understand, customizable slides.

    SEL Resource Library

    Our online Resource Library features resources with a strong basis for better understanding SEL. The repository of readings, websites, videos, and more are categorized below to help users gain the knowledge necessary to understanding fundamental areas of SEL.