Frameworks, Competencies, Standards, and Guidelines

State Resource Center: Frameworks and Competencies

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Competencies and standards across grades or grade bands, with developmental benchmarks or indicators, provide an organizing framework for SEL that includes clear, concise, statements that are strongly grounded in research. Many state and school district leaders define their SEL learning goals by using or adapting CASEL’s SEL framework (“the CASEL wheel”) or choosing another SEL framework.

CASEL recommends that state working groups articulate what students should know and be able to do with SEL to help educators recognize, understand, and intentionally support the development of students’ social and emotional competencies. The resources below can help.

Resources from CASEL

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Feel free to download, customize, and use with attribution, e.g., “Adapted from the Collaborative for Academic, Social, and Emotional Learning and used with permission.”

  • CASEL’s SEL Framework. This resource provides states with the basics of social and emotional learning, including the five core SEL competencies. (October 2020). Visit the webpage.
  • An Examination of K-12 SEL Learning Competencies/Standards in 18 States. This resource provides an analysis of what other states have in place. (March 2020). Download the pdf.
  • Ten Criteria for Describing and Selecting SEL Frameworks. This resource defines criteria for rating the extent to which a framework is conceptually clear, based on evidence, and offers implementation supports. (August 2019). Download the PDF.
  • Keeping SEL Developmental: The Importance of a Developmental Lens for Fostering and Assessing SEL Competencies. This resource explores how development and the developmental tasks children and youth face at different ages are essential to everything about SEL. (November 2018). Download the PDF.
  • SEL Frameworks – What are They and Why are They Important? This resource introduces the nature, types, importance, and uses of frameworks. (September 2018). Download the PDF.
  • SEL Frameworks – Practical Challenges and Opportunities. This resource describes current challenges that the multitude of frameworks present for practice and opportunities for addressing them. (September 2018) Download the PDF.
  • Introduction to the Descriptive Series. This resource is designed to help practitioners and organizations determine their priority needs and provides snapshots of prominent SEL frameworks. (August 2019). Download the PDF.
  • Key Features of High-Quality Policies and Guidelines to Support Social and Emotional Learning. This resource is useful for identifying the key features of SEL policies and guidelines, as well as associated example resources from states and districts. (January 2017). Download the PDF.
  • Recommended Process for Developing State Policies and Guidelines to Support Social and Emotional Learning. This resource provides 14 steps that states can use to develop SEL-related policies and guidelines. (January 2017). Download the PDF.
  • A Process for Developing and Articulating Learning Goals or Competencies for Social and Emotional Learning. This resource provides more specific guidance to help state teams develop SEL standards and competencies. (January 2017). Download the PDF.

Resources from Other Organizations

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  • Identifying, Defining, and Measuring Social and Emotional Competencies. American Institutes for Research. This report shares more on the wide variety of frameworks used in the SEL field, surveying 136 established and emerging SEL frameworks across 14 fields of study. (December 2017) Access the PDF.
  • This Time, With Feeling: Integrating SEL Development and College- and Career-Readiness Standards. Aspen Institute. This brief is helpful for those interested in integrating SEL into college and career readiness, outlining the mutually reinforcing benefits of these two competency frameworks. (March 2017) Access the PDF.
  • Navigating SEL From the Inside Out. Wallace Foundation. This report provides detailed information on the skills, instructional methods, and programmatic features for 25 in-school SEL programs for elementary students. In addition, you can use this report to learn more about aligning specific SEL programs to your school’s mission or schedule. (March 2017) Access the PDF.

Resources from States and School Districts

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  • Anchorage School District (Alaska) – SEL Standards. These standards provide sub-indicators relevant to all grades, organized into four categories of competencies that overlap with and encompass the CASEL competencies. Many state teams like the “I can” statements that orient the standards from the student’s perspective, rather than the adults’ perspectives. (August 2013). Download the PDF.
  • Austin Independent School District (Texas) – SEL Standards. The K-12 SEL standards are fully aligned with the CASEL competencies and provide objectives for each standard by grade band: K-2, 3-5, 6-8, 9-12, and 10-12. (September 2012). Download the PDF.
  • Cleveland Metropolitan School District (Ohio) – SEL Scope and Sequence. The SEL Scope and Sequence presents K-12 standards that are fully aligned with the CASEL competencies. The scope and sequence is unique, as CMSD created indicators with developmental benchmarks for each standard for each grade. (2011) View the PDF.
  • Illinois State Board of Education – K–12 SEL Standards and Performance Indicators. Illinois was the first state to develop K–12 SEL standards and performance indicators (2004) that align with CASEL competencies and include indicators and developmental benchmarks by grade band. View the webpage.
  • Kansas – SEL and Character Development Model Standards. Originally adopted in 2012, the standards cover the CASEL five core competencies (organized by personal, social, and character) in three areas: character development, personal development and social development. They are aligned with the College and Career Readiness goal, include indicators for each standard by grade band, and are unique in that they integrate social and emotional development with character development. (July 2018). Access the PDF.
  • Michigan – Early Childhood to Grade 12 Social and Emotional Learning (SEL) Competencies and Indicators. These competencies and indicators are aligned with the CASEL competencies, include indicators with developmental benchmarks by grade band, and integrate birth through prekindergarten SEL standards throughout. In addition, the competencies include strategies educators can use to support student development. (June 2017). Access the PDF.
  • Minnesota – SEL Competencies. The competencies are aligned with CASEL, include indicators with developmental benchmarks by grade band, and connect to a school climate framework created when the antibullying Safe and Supportive Schools Act was signed into law. The competencies are unique because they include strategies and sample activities educators can use to support student development of the competencies. Download the PDF.
  • New York – Social Emotional Learning—Essential for Learning, Essential for Life. Addresses the need for SEL in New York’s schools and serves as an introduction to a series of resources: voluntary Social Emotional Learning Benchmarks, a Guide to Systemic Whole School Implementation, and a series of school district-developed crosswalks aligning SEL competencies with learning standards in the content areas. (August 2018). View the PDF.
  • New York – State Social Emotional Learning Benchmarks. Benchmarks address three key SEL goals: (1) develop self-awareness and self-management skills essential to success in school and in life; (2) use social awareness and interpersonal skills to establish and maintain positive relationships; (3) demonstrate ethical decision-making skills and responsible behaviors in personal, school, and community contexts. They are organized according to four grade spans: early elementary (K-3), late elementary (4-5), middle school (6-8), early high school (9-10), and late high school (11-12). (August 2018). View the webpage.
  • North Dakota – Social and Emotional Learning Goals. The Social Emotional Learning Goals (K-12) are aligned to CASEL’s competencies with indicators for each goal by grade band. The goals are unique because they also include SEL Student-Friendly Scales that act as developmental benchmarks for grade bands. (June 2018). Access the PDF.
  • Oakland Unified School District (California) – SEL Standards. The standards are aligned with the CASEL competencies and uniquely applied from PreK to Adult, with a deep commitment to creating standards that reflect equity. (August 2015). Download the PDF.
  • Tennessee – K-12 Social and Personal Competencies Resource Guide. The competencies are closely aligned with the CASEL competencies, include indicators and developmental benchmarks by grade band, and are directly connected with the state’s goal of building a bridge to post-secondary success for their students. (November 2017). Download the PDF.
  • Washoe County School District (Nevada) – SEL Standards. The K-12 standards are aligned with the CASEL competencies and include indicators for each competency. The standards are an example of a set of district standards that were elevated by the state (Nevada) to create the state K-12 competencies. Download the PDF.
  • Wisconsin – SEL Competencies. The PreK-Adult SEL competencies include competencies and indicators with developmental benchmarks that align with the state’s early learning framework, and generally align with CASEL’s competencies (organized differently to reflect specific state goals of emotional development, self-concept, and social competence for students). The competencies are closely related to the state’s work to support students experiencing trauma. (May 2018). Download the PDF.
  • Missisquoi Valley School District (Vermont) – Social-Emotional Competencies Guide. The Guide creates a Pre-Kindergarten through Grade 12 framework that addresses the social and emotional learning skills that every child, adolescent, and adult should obtain during their time at MVSD. (October 2020). View the webpage.
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