Chicago Public Schools (CPS) is deeply committed to the mission of the CDI and has worked in partnership with CASEL for nearly 20 years to implement social and emotional learning (SEL) practices in its schools. District leaders have integrated SEL into the district’s vision and core school improvement processes. SEL provides a framework for improving school climate, mental health services, discipline practices, and academic engagement. Despite the challenges of changing policy and practice in a large and diverse urban district, CPS has sustained and deepened support for SEL. This trend has accelerated since 2012, thanks to its involvement in the CDI.
SEL in Action
SEL skills instruction: CPS has scaled implementation of evidence-based programming for SEL across its many diverse schools.
- 342 out of a total of 421 elementary schools are implementing evidence-based programs to explicitly teach social and emotional skills, including Second Step, PATHS, Caring School Community, Responsive Classroom, Developmental Designs, and The Leader in Me. The district is supporting new approaches to SEL in secondary schools.
- High school students gain exposure to SEL through schoolwide climate and culture development, restorative practices, community-building routines, mentorship programs, and extracurricular activities. SEL is also embedded in social science and health curricula, as well as other core content areas.
- The district’s strategic plan for Multi-Tiered Systems of Support expects that all schools will adopt a systematic approach to ensure that all students’ social and emotional needs are met. This includes developing supportive school and classroom environments that promote social and emotional growth, and instruction that provides opportunities to practice the competencies outlined in the Illinois SEL Standards, as well as targeted social and emotional supports when needed.
Resource alignment: CPS has devoted considerable resources to support implementation of best practices for SEL.
- The CPS Office of Social and Emotional Learning (OSEL) includes 34 talented, committed staff members.
- • Despite overall budget reductions throughout the district in recent years, the SEL office has maintained a stable budget. In 2014 and 2016, the district added SEL specialists assigned to each of CPS’ geographical networks and alternative schools. As a result of this strategic investment, CPS now can provide customized, onsite support for SEL, and chief network officers report that the SEL specialists are valued members of their teams.
Integration: The core strategy for promoting systemic SEL in CPS has been integration with other initiatives and policies.
- SEL and supportive school climate is embedded throughout the district’s three-year vision and framework for school improvement. SEL is also a key strategy within the district’s ongoing work toward ensuring equity for all students.
- The district has implemented a progressive discipline policy that limits the use of exclusionary discipline practices and encourages all schools to respond to behavior incidents using supportive, restorative discipline practices to promote social and emotional development. The result of this policy shift and accompanying professional development efforts has been a dramatic decrease in suspensions and expulsions and an increase in the use of instructive, corrective, and restorative responses to misconduct.
- SEL is also part of professional development for core academic content areas such as math and literacy. Districtwide professional development for principals and assistant principals has also included multiple SEL-focused breakout sessions each year.
- Stakeholders throughout the district are communicating about their work as part of a larger strategy to promote social, emotional, and academic development.
District Reported Results
Since introducing the CPS School Climate Standards in the 2014-2015 school year, 88% of schools have completed a School Climate Self-Assessment, and 436 schools (80%) have used these results to build a school climate action plan and earn a Supportive School Certification. Of these, more than 120 have earned the higher Established Supportive School Certification, and more than 55 have earned the highest Exemplary Supportive School Certification.
- In 2012 the graduation rate was 59.3% and steadily increased to 77.5% in 2017.
- Out-of-school suspension has declined 76% since the 2012-2013 school year.
- In-school suspension has declined 41% since the 2012-2013 school year.
- Expulsions have dropped by 59%, and police notifications have dropped 50% since 2012-2013.