Current Research

CASEL is committed to advancing quality SEL nationwide through a deep and ongoing commitment to shared knowledge-building. Through scholarship and key initiatives, CASEL creates, tests, measures, and refines practical approaches for addressing the field’s most challenging issues, including equity and SEL, adult SEL, and SEL and academic integration.

At the core of CASEL’s research efforts is collaboration, recognizing that diverse viewpoints are critical to growing the field toward equity and excellence. This core tenant aligns with the research agenda put forth by The National Commission on Social, Emotional, and Academic Development (NC-SEAD), which called for a research paradigm that supplements the field’s over-reliance on experimental designs. CASEL’s current research-practice partnership approach strives to address key considerations in partnership with others to advance:

SEL as a Lever for Equity & Excellence

Through ongoing efforts with practitioners, policymakers, and researchers, CASEL is deepening what we know about SEL as a lever for equity. Learn more.

Definitional work: CASEL is reexamining the definition of SEL to ensure SEL is dynamic and inclusive of all learners, rooted in the integration of social, emotional, and academic development, and reflective of current science and developmental principles emerging from others in the space. 

Research Paper: A 2019 paper, Transformative Social and Emotional Learning (SEL): Toward SEL in Service of Educational Equity and Excellence, is anchored in the notion of justice-oriented citizenship, with issues of culture, identity, agency, belonging, and engagement explored as relevant expressions of the five core SEL competencies. Read the 2019 research article.

Building Equitable Learning Environments (BELE) Framework: CASEL is part of a collective of diverse educators committed to tackling the inequities in our school system. The collective developed a framework to guide the redesign of public school systems that center the experiences of young people with evidence-based practice and resources to support lasting change. View the framework.

SEL and Continuous Improvement (CI)

High-quality SEL implementation requires an ongoing commitment to continuously iterate and improve. CASEL’s Theories of Action include continuous improvement as a deliberate and structured process to address problems of practice and improve outcomes when implementing SEL in states, districts, and schools. We aim to sharpen our CI approach and tools through the development of research-practice partnership models. We approach this using the following guiding questions:

Organize: Where do we want to go? Where are we now and where have we been?

Implement: How do we get from where we are now to where we want to be?

Improve: Are we moving in the right direction? What are we learning on our journey?

Research-Practice Partnership (RPP) Model: CASEL developed projects with partners representing three tiers of education practitioners: schools, districts, and state education agencies. Our RPPs aim to investigate the best processes for combining rigorous research methodology with a recognition of practical, actionable findings generated by and for practitioners.

Learn more about positive results with CASEL’s districts, such as Washoe County School District which found a 21-point difference in math scores and a 20-point difference in English-Language Arts (ELA) scores between students with low and high social and emotional competencies.

SEL Assessment: Assessment is a cornerstone of effective instruction and learning. This is true for academic disciplines such as math and science, as well as SEL. We recognize the importance of establishing practical assessments that are scientifically sound, feasible to use, and actionable, as well as guidance on how to use these measures. Learn more.

  • Catalyzing Future Directions of Social and Emotional Learning Assessment (2020)
  • Student Social and Emotional Competence Assessment: The Current State of the Field and a Vision for the Future (2019)
  • Making SEL Assessment Work: Ten Practitioner Beliefs (2019)
  • Practitioner Guide: Choosing and Using SEL Assessments (2018)
  • SEL and Assessment resource library (2019)

Schoolwide SEL Implementation:  CASEL developed a schoolwide SEL walkthrough protocol to observe, measure, and track implementation according to CASEL’s 10 indicators of schoolwide SEL.

To support continuous improvement efforts, the tool helps users identify evidence of schoolwide SEL across classroom and school settings to set implementation goals, reflect on and track progress, and develop or adjust action plans.

In 2020, CASEL partnered with Learning Sciences International (LSI), one of the foremost authorities on walk metrics and the developer of the nation’s leading-edge technology for capturing walk data with powerful reporting and data security, to create a digital version of the Schoolwide SEL Walkthrough Protocol.

SEL Program Review

CASEL is not a program or curriculum. Specifically with SEL programming, CASEL serves as a neutral body in the field, evaluating programs against our rigorous criteria to determine those that are high-quality, evidence-based, and universal. 

Program Review Process: SEL program providers can apply to be reviewed against CASEL’s criteria, which was recently revised (Nov 2020). The revised criteria reflect the significant progress the field has made in areas such as academic integration, equity, adult SEL, and partnerships with families and communities–and CASEL’s updated definitions of SEL. The review process identifies well-designed, evidence-based SEL programs with potential for broad dissemination to schools across the country. The next review cycle will be announced soon. Learn more about the rationale for updated criteria and a companion quick facts document.

CASEL Program Guides: The adoption of evidence-based programs is key to providing consistent, high-quality SEL opportunities for all students. To help educators seeking to find programs that will promote social and emotional competence in their students, CASEL published a consumer-style report to help decision-makers find the one that fits their communities’ needs. Learn more.