The Positive Impact of Social and Emotional Learning for Kindergarten to Eighth-Grade Students

Findings from Three Scientific Reviews

December 1, 2008
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Summary

This report summarizes results from three large-scale reviews of research on the impact of social and emotional learning (SEL) programs on elementaryand middle-school students — that is, programs that seek to promote various social and emotional skills. Collectively the three reviews included 317 studies and involved 324,303 children.

SEL programs yielded multiple benefi ts in each review and were effective in both school and after-school settings and for students with and without behavioral and emotional problems. They were also effective across the K-8 grade range and for racially and ethnically diverse students from urban, rural, and suburban settings. SEL programs improved students’ social-emotional skills, attitudes about self and others, connection to school, positive social behavior, and academic performance; they also reduced students’ conduct problems and emotional distress. Comparing results from these reviews to findings obtained in reviews of interventions by other research teams suggests that SEL programs are among the most successful youth-development programs offered to school-age youth. Furthermore, school staff (e.g., teachers, student support staff) carried out SEL programs effectively, indicating that they can be incorporated into routine educational practice. In addition, SEL programming improved students’ achievement test scores by 11 to 17 percentile points, indicating that they offer students a practical educational benefint. Given these positive findings, we recommend that federal, state, and local policies and practices encourage the broad implementation of well-designed, evidence-based SEL programs during and after school.

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