Ready to Lead

A National Principal Survey on How Social and Emotional Learning Can Prepare Children and Transform Schools

November 1, 2017
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Since principals play a key role in establishing the culture and conditions for SEL to thrive in their buildings, their views are critical. To what extent do they support SEL in their schools?

This first of two surveys we conducted with Civic and Hart Research Associates found virtually all the 900 principals interviewed believe a stepped-up focus on SEL would positively impact school climate, build citizenship, improve relationships between students and teachers, and decrease bullying. Implementation varies widely, however.
  • A little more than one-third (35 percent) of principals report having a plan for teaching SEL and are systematically implementing it schoolwide. Those schools tend to be far more likely than others to have strong support for SEL from their district leadership.
  • Across the board, principals say they want more training for teachers and greater access to research-based strategies for successfully developing SEL in students. Sixty percent of principals point to a lack of teacher training to support students’ social and emotional development as a big challenge.
  • On assessment, 71 percent of principals agree that SEL skills can be measured and assessed, but only 38 percent of those using assessments of students’ social-emotional competence say they’re useful.

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