The District of Columbia Public Schools (DCPS) joined CASEL’s Collaborative Districts Initiative in 2018 to assist with guiding the work to become a district of both excellence and equity—where, as stated in their vision, “every student feels loved, challenged, and prepared to positively influence society and thrive in life.”
To that end, the Capital Commitment five-year strategic plan for 2017-2022 seeks to educate the whole child by providing rigorous, joyful, and inclusive academic and social emotional learning experiences to ensure all students are college and career ready. In systematizing implementation of SEL across our district, the SEL leads at each of the 115 schools leverage the CASEL Guide to Schoolwide SEL to reflect upon instructional/school culture practices, determine professional development needs, and deliver training opportunities tailored to individual school needs. DCPS has leveraged CASEL’s expertise to develop Social Emotional Academic Development (SEAD) Learning Targets to intentionally integrate SEL instruction into academic content areas. The collaborative continuous improvement work has allowed the district to focus the examination of SEL and behavior data to achieve actionable results for students, staff, and stakeholders.
SEL in Action
SEL in Schools: DCPS school-based SEL leads have engaged with the CASEL Guide to Schoolwide SEL, using the interactive rubric to establish their needs and priorities for SEL implementation and create goals for fostering schoolwide SEL.
Social Emotional Academic Development (SEL Integration): With support from CASEL and DCPS’s Office of Teaching and Learning, the district has laid the groundwork for the development of PreK-12 SEAD Learning Targets by consulting with national experts on learning standards, reviewing other district/state frameworks, and backwards-mapping a graduate profile for a SEAD-focused student.
Data for Continuous Improvement: In this first year, the DCPS SEL Team began using the CASEL District Theory of Action and accompanying rubric to determine baseline ratings on all indicators of systemic SEL, establish priorities, and conduct check-ins for progress monitoring.
District Reported Results
DCPS is administering a nationally normed survey instrument to students in grades 3-12, staff, and families that will provide quantitative data on social and emotional learning, school satisfaction, and staff and family engagement. District leaders believe SEL is one of several factors that contributed to improved outcomes in several areas:
- 83% of students are satisfied with their school.
- 88% of families are satisfied with their child’s school.
- 90% of teachers are comfortable with incorporating new material about people from different backgrounds into their curriculum.