SEL Policy at the State Level

A systemic approach can align state policies, resources, and actions to support SEL.

The country has witnessed tremendous growth in the number of states prioritizing social and emotional learning (SEL). States play a critical role in helping to ensure that all students, preschool through high school, have consistent opportunities to engage in high-quality SEL.

State leaders can establish learning benchmarks, guidelines and goals, as well as provide funding and professional development support to districts and schools. In all of these roles, state education agencies can help create the conditions where SEL can thrive at the community, district, and school level.

This page offers a national picture of states’ SEL implementation progress and information on our partnership with state education agencies, known as the Collaborating States Initiative.

Our SEL is strategically placed as a universal strategy to build resilience, cultivate protective factors, like strong relationships with peers and adults, and reduce stigma around mental health help-seeking.
Dr. Susan Bunting
State Secretary of Education

What do we know about SEL state policies?

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We know that success in the classroom is more likely when state policy clearly supports the conditions for high-quality, systemic SEL in every school. Our SEL State Scorecard provides a national picture of SEL momentum at the state level. The SEL State Scorecard can help identify patterns in data and highlight key policies states should adopt to create those conditions for success.

Today, more than 20 states have adopted K-12 SEL competencies and all 50 have adopted pre-K SEL competencies. Interested in what your state is doing? Click on a state in the interactive map below to learn more about SEL policies in that community.

AL AK AZ AR CA CO CT DE DC FL GA HI ID IL IN IA KS KY LA ME MD MA MI MN MS MO MT NE NV NH NJ NM NY NC ND OH OK OR PA RI SC SD TN TX UT VT VA WA WV WI WY

Interactive Map

Alabama

Competencies/Standards: The Alabama Developmental Standards for Preschool Children (2012) include SEL competencies/standards.

Alaska

Guidance/Resources: Department of Education and Early Development (DEED) Skills for Healthy Living standards. DEED offers a series of online training modules that relate to SEL – Emotional Intelligence, Self-Regulation, Mind-Body Connection.

Competencies: Alaska has Early Learning Guidelines for Birth-Kindergarten.

Arizona

Competencies/Standards: Early Learning standards (4th edition) include SEL competencies/standards for children ages 3 to 5 years.

Arkansas

Competencies/Standards: Arkansas recently released The G.U.I.D.E. for Life, which is designed to give K-12 students a five-step process to develop skills they can follow to achieve personal success. Arkansas also has Early Learning Standards for Birth-60 months

Guidance/Resources: Their website provides links to further external resources.

California

Competencies/Standards: Click here to access The California Preschool Learning Foundations (2008), which includes SEL competencies/standards for children ages 48 to 60 months.

Guidance/Resources: Click here to access the California State Department of Education’s SEL Guiding Principles and website dedicated to providing information and resources on SEL. Expanded learning: 360°/365 is a collaborative project dedicated to promoting the development of critical skills beyond academics.

Colorado

Competencies/Standards: Click here to access the Colorado Early Learning and Developmental Guidelines (2013), which include SEL competencies/standards for children from birth to age 5. Colorado Academic Standards have identified Colorado Essential Skills within the all standards. Social Emotional Learning is a standard with the Comprehensive Health Education Standards. The National Health Education Standards and the CASEL standards are embedded across all topical areas.

Guidance/Resources: Click here to access the Colorado School Safety and Resource Center’s website dedicated to information and resources about SEL.

Connecticut

Competencies/Standards: The Connecticut Early Learning and Development Standards include SEL competencies/standards for birth to age 5 (2014) and SEL competencies/standards for K-3rd grade (2018).

Connecticut has a recording of their first SEL and School Climate Collaborative meeting, which took place in August 2019.

Delaware

Competencies/Standards: The Delaware Early Learning Foundations include SEL competencies/standards for birth to age 3 (2010) and SEL competencies/standards for the DE Early Learning Foundations for preschool (2010).

Florida

Standards: The Florida Early Learning and Developmental Standards (2017) include SEL competencies/standards for birth through Kindergarten. Also, Early Learning and Developmental Standards (2017) for Birth to Kindergarten and Standards (2017) for 4 years old to Kindergarten.

Resources: SEL Webpage which also supports the State’s District Collaborative.

Georgia

Competencies/Standards: The Georgia Early Learning and Development Standards (2018) include SEL competencies/standards for birth to 60 months.

Hawaii

Competencies/Standards: The Hawaii Early Learning and Developmental Standards (2014) include SEL competencies/standards for birth through Kindergarten.

Idaho

Competencies/Standards: Idaho has developed SEL competencies/standards from birth through 3rd grade (2011).

Illinois

Competencies/Standards: The Illinois Early Learning Guidelines (2013) include SEL competencies/standards for birth to age 3 and SEL competencies/standards for age 3 to Kindergarten. Illinois has also developed SEL competencies/standards for K-12, which align with the Early Learning Developmental Standards.

Guidance/Resources: The Illinois State Board of Education provides a webpage dedicated to resources about SEL and its integration into schools. Also: Illinois Classrooms in Action Resources.

Indiana

Competencies/Standards. The state updated its guidelines in 2019 to extend from PreK through grade 12.

Guidance/Resources: The website includes toolkits, professional development opportunities, FAQs, and other resources. They have also created Early learning foundations for PreK that are aligned to the 2014 Indiana Academic Standards.

Iowa

Competencies/Standards: The Iowa Early Learning Standards (2017) include SEL competencies/standards for birth to age 5.

Resources: School Climate Transformation Grant Webpage that includes tools and resources to support implementation of SEL.

Kansas

Competencies/Standards: The Kansas Early Learning Standards (2013) include SEL competencies/standards for birth to Kindergarten. Kansas has also developed SEL competencies/standards for K-12.

Guidance/Resources: The Kansas State Department of Education has a webpage dedicated to resources and support materials for SEL.

Kentucky

Competencies/Standards: The Kentucky Early Childhood Standards (2013) include SEL competencies/standards for birth through age 4.

Guidance/Resources: The Kentucky Department of Education has a webpage dedicated to social and emotional learning.

Louisiana

Competencies/Standards: The Louisiana Birth to Five Early Learning & Development Standards (2013) include SEL competencies/standards.

Resources: Webpage that shares SEL resources

Maine

Competencies/Standards: The Maine Early Learning and Development Standards (2015) include SEL competencies/standards for birth to 3rd grade. Maine has also developed SEL competencies/standards for K-12.

Maryland

Competencies/Standards: The Maryland Early Learning Standards (2016) include SEL competencies/standards for birth through 2nd grade.

Massachusetts

Competencies/Standards: The Massachusetts SEL and Approaches to Play and Learning for Preschool and Kindergarten (2015) include SEL competencies/standards.

Guidance/Resources: The Massachusetts Department of Elementary and Secondary Education offers a webpage dedicated to resources and support materials for SEL.

Michigan

Competencies/Standards: Michigan has developed SEL competencies/standards for birth to 12th grade (2017).

Guidance/Resources: The Michigan Department of Education has a webpage dedicated to SEL, which includes a guidance document that connects SEL to school improvement. In addition, they have a series of five online modules, including SEL and trauma, that educators can take.

Minnesota

Competencies/Standards: The Minnesota Early Learning Standards (2017) includes SEL competencies/standards for birth to age 5 and SEL competencies/standards for K-12 – Relationship Skills Competency, Self-Awareness Competency, Self-Management Competency, Social Awareness Competency, Responsible Decision-Making Competency.

Guidance/Resources: The Minnesota Department of Education has an SEL Webpage with Implementation, Professional Learning, and Assessment Guidance.

Mississippi

Competencies/Standards: The Mississippi Early Learning Guidelines include SEL competencies/standards for classrooms serving three- and four-year-olds.

Missouri

Competencies/Standards: The Missouri Early Learning Standards for Social and Emotional Development and Approaches to Learning (2018) include SEL competencies/standards in for preschool-age children.

Guidance/Resources: Missouri offers guidance on SEL lesson plans.

Montana

Competencies/Standards: The Montana Early Learning Standards (2014) include SEL competencies/standards for birth to age 5.

Guidance/Resources: Resources to Help Parents Support their Children’s Success Website.

Nebraska

Competencies/Standards: The Nebraska Birth to Five Learning and Development Standards (2018) include SEL competencies/standards.

Guidance/Resources: The Nebraska Department of Education has a webpage dedicated to external resources on SEL.

Nevada

Competencies/Standards: The Nevada Pre-Kindergarten Standards (2010) include SEL competencies/standards for children 48 months to 60 months. Nevada has also developed SEL competencies/standards for K-12.

New Hampshire

Competencies/Standards: The New Hampshire Early Learning Standards (2016) include SEL competencies/standards for birth through age 5.

Guidance/Resources: The New Hampshire Department of Education’s Office of Student Wellness has a webpage dedicated to information and resources on SEL and their SEL initiatives.

New Jersey

Competencies/Standards: New Jersey has SEL standards/competencies in the New Jersey Birth to Three Early Learning Standards (2013) and the New Jersey Preschool Teaching and Learning Standards (2014). New Jersey has also developed SEL standards/competencies for K-12 (2012).

Guidance/Resources: The New Jersey State Department of Education has a webpage dedicated to research and resources for SEL, including information for schools and families.

New Mexico

Competencies/Standards: The New Mexico Early Learning Standards (2014) include SEL competencies/standards from birth through Kindergarten.

New York

Competencies/Standards: The New York State Prekindergarten Learning Standards (2019). The state has also created SEL Benchmarks for K-12.

Guidance/Resources: The New York Department of Education has a webpage dedicated to SEL.

North Carolina

Competencies/Standards: North Carolina has developed Foundations for Early Learning and Development from Birth-Age 5.

Guidance/Resources: North Carolina built Early Learning and Development Progressions: Birth to Five based on their early learning standards. Their webpage also includes Pyramid Emotional-Social Development Trainer Modules.

North Dakota

Competencies/Standards: North Dakota Early Learning Standards–Birth to K (2018) include SEL competencies/standards for preschool-age children. North Dakota has also developed SEL Goals by Competency: K-12.

Guidance/Resources: Their website contains SEL-related resources including a crosswalk of Standards and SEL.

Ohio

Competencies/Standards: The Ohio Early Learning and Development Standards (2017) include SEL competencies/standards from birth through Kindergarten entry. Ohio has also developed SEL Standards from Kindergarten through 12th grade.

Guidance/Resources: The Ohio Department of Education has a webpage on social emotional development in young children, as well as a webpage that supports the implementation of their K-12 SEL Standards, including the history of SEL at the department, connections to trauma, and other implementation supports.

Oklahoma

Competencies/Standards: The Oklahoma Early Learning Guidelines for Infants, Toddlers, and Twos (2017) includes SEL competencies/standards for birth to age 3 and for ages 3 to 5.

Oregon

Competencies/Standards: The Oregon Early Learning and Kindergarten Guidelines (2016) include SEL competencies/standards for age 3 through Kindergarten.

Guidance/Resources: The Oregon Department of Education has a webpage dedicated to SEL. They also have a webpage on SEL resources for student assessment.

Pennsylvania

Competencies/Standards: Pennsylvania has developed Learning Standards for Early Childhood – Infant/Toddler; Pre-Kindergarten; Kindergarten; Grade 1 and Grade 2. They have also developed Pennsylvania Career Ready Skills for K-12.

Guidance/Resources: Pennsylvania has developed Career Ready Skills that are aligned with social and emotional learning. Their Career Ready Skills webpage includes many tools and resources to support implementation. In addition, new SEL resources are located on their Safe Schools page, which includes the Pennsylvania Career Ready Skills/SEL progressions that supports the development of student competence for the workplace.

Rhode Island

Competencies/Standards: The Rhode Island Early Learning and Development Standards include SEL competencies/standards for birth to 60 months (2013). Rhode Island has also developed SEL competencies/standards for K-12 (2017).

Guidance/Resources: The Rhode Island State Department of Education has a webpage dedicated to information and resources for SEL, including teaching practices and community involvement.

South Carolina

Competencies/Standards: The South Carolina Early Learning Standards include SEL competencies/standards for Children ages 3-5 .

South Dakota

Competencies/Standards: The South Dakota Early Learning Guidelines include SEL competencies/standards for birth through age 5 (2017).

Tennessee

Competencies/Standards: The Tennessee Early Learning Developmental Standards include SEL competencies/standards for birth to 48 months (2013), and for 4-year-olds (2013). Tennessee has also developed SEL competencies/standards for K-12 (2017).

Guidance/Resources: The Tennessee State Department of Education has a webpage dedicated to information and resources for SEL, including classroom instruction and educator effectiveness.

Texas

Competencies/Standards: Texas has SEL competencies/standards in the Texas Infant, Toddler, and Three-Year-Old Early Learning Guidelines (2015) and the Texas Prekindergarten Guidelines (2015).

Utah

Competencies/Standards: The Utah Early Childhood Core Standards include SEL competencies/standards for ages 3 to 5 (2013). Utah has also developed School Readiness Standards-Ages 3-5 as a companion document to the Early Childhood standards.

Vermont

Competencies/Standards: Vermont has developed SEL competencies/standards for birth through 3rd grade (2015).

Virginia

Competencies/Standards: The Virginia Milestones of Child Development include SEL competencies/standards for birth to 48 months (2013). Virginia’s Foundation Blocks for Early Learning: Comprehensive Standards for Four-Year-Olds include SEL competencies/standards.

Washington

Competencies/Standards: In January 2019, Washington completed and released their SEL standards, benchmarks and indicators spanning early elementary to high school/adult. The release of these documents now extends the scope and complements the existing early learning SEL competencies/standards previously developed spanning Birth through 3rd grade.

Guidance/Resources: Washington has developed multiple resources to support local school districts with SEL implementation, including an SEL webpage, a series of five online modules focused on SEL, and a report to the legislature, which features an extensive K-12 implementation guide, role-alike implementation briefs, and briefs on how to engage diverse stakeholders within the state-level SEL process.

West Virginia

Competencies/Standards: The West Virginia PreK Standards include SEL competencies/standards for ages 3 to 5 (2019). The state also has a webpage where they have a link to their College- and Career-Readiness Dispositions and Standards for Student Success (K-12) under Policy 2520.19.

Guidance/Resources: The West Virginia Department of Education provides SEL-related resources as part of their Safe Schools Toolkit.

Wisconsin

Competencies/Standards: Wisconsin has developed SEL competencies/standards from Pre-K through adulthood (2018).

Guidance/Resources: The Wisconsin Department of Public Instruction (DPI) has a webpage dedicated to information and resources on SEL, such as DPI training and technical assistance, online modules, resources to build capacity, assessment tools, tools that connect SEL and online safety, and tools about selecting and implementing evidence-based SEL programs, among many others.

Wyoming

Competencies/Standards: The Wyoming Early Learning Guidelines include SEL competencies/standards for birth to age 3 (2015) and for ages 3 to 5 (2014).

Washington, D.C.

Competencies/Standards: DC Early Learning Standards include SEL competencies/standards through PreK (2012).

How is CASEL advancing this work?

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Collaborating States Initiative

Much of this recent growth has been supported by our Collaborating States Initiative (CSI). The CSI is a collaborative relationship with and between state education agencies aimed at creating the conditions for high-quality, systemic SEL.

Since its creation in 2016, the CSI has scaled state-level SEL work from 8 states to over 40 states and one U.S. territory, representing more than 90% of districts, schools, teachers, and students in the US. We’ve also found that states connected to the CSI were more likely to adopt SEL competencies and four times more likely to share SEL guidance.

Partner states develop SEL plans based on focal areas of our State Theory of Action:

  • Build foundational support and plan
  • Strengthen adult competencies and capacity
  • Promote SEL for students
  • Reflect on data for continuous improvement

In partnership with national advisors, we provide state partners with:

  • Community of practice, including national meeting of state teams, including state leaders; regional meetings that provide similarly located states to collaborate on their SEL policies and practices; and collaboration on common problems of practice.
  • Technical assistance, including coaching that is organized around their customized goals; resources such as webinars, a newsletter, and a robust SEL library; findings from state-specific research; information on best practices and evidence-based tools developed for the field; and customized plans for advancing SEL.
  • Deeper exploration of key areas, such as workforce development and SEL. In 2020, CASEL launched the SEL and Workforce initiative, strategically supporting teams in eight states in partnership with key national collaborators. Learn more about this initiative.
    • The CSI Advisory Committee supports state teams in achieving their customized goals and plans—creating the conditions for the districts and schools in their state to implement evidence-based, equity-focused SEL policies and practices.

      • Megan Blanco, Director of Safe and Healthy Schools, National Association of State Boards of Education
      • Anne Bowles, Program Director, Student-Centered Learning, Council of Chief State School Officers
      • John Bridgeland, Founder and CEO, Civic
      • Sara Castro-Olivo, Associate Professor, Texas A&M University
      • Linda Darling-Hammond, President and CEO, Learning Policy Institute
      • Jennifer DePaoli, Senior Researcher, Learning Policy Institute
      • Seth Gerson, Program Director, Education Division, National Governors Association
      • John King, CEO, Education Trust
      • Stephanie Krauss, Senior Director, Special Projects, Jobs for the Future
      • Mike Magee, CEO, Chiefs for Change
      • Karen Pittman, CEO and President, Forum for Youth Investment
      • Aaliyah Samuel, Vice President, Policy and Advocacy, NWEA
      • Scott Solberg, Professor of Counseling and Applied Human Development, Boston University
      • Ashley Wallace, Program Director, National Conference of State Legislatures
      • Natalie Walrond, Director, Center to Improve Social and Emotional Learning and School Safety
      • Gene Wilhoit, Executive Director, National Center for Innovation in Education

      Ex-Officio Advisors

      • Chi Kim, CEO, Pure Edge, Inc.

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