California schools find success building student confidence and campus culture

Since 2015, CORE (California Office to Reform Education) school districts have been doing districtwide surveys to measure students’ social and emotional learning (SEL).

This is the first time social and emotional learning has been measured at scale, said Heather Hough, Executive Director of Policy Analysis for California Education (PACE), a nonprofit research organization. Researchers are starting to gather enough data to quantify links between the social and emotional aspects of students’ education and their academic achievement.

“We do know that schools that have higher social emotional learning and school culture and climate most often also have higher growth in student achievement,” Hough said. “We know that there’s a correlation. What future and ongoing work is doing is looking at that more causally.”

Three years of data from California’s CORE districts, which have close to 1 million students, show some broad trends, Hough said. Survey feedback has prompted educators across the CORE districts to implement programs that celebrate students’ unique skills and move away from disciplinary approaches that disproportionately affect low-income students and students of color, such as suspensions and expulsions. The goal is to instead, build connections with students to explore why the behavior happened, why it was wrong, what damage was done to the community and how it can be fixed, Hough said. Learn more about PACE's research on SEL at >>>>

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