Student and Family Support (SFS)

Social and Emotional Learning in Massachusetts

Social and Emotional Learning News Headlines
06/15/2022 Webpage outlining mental and behavioral health supports from the Office of Student and Family Support
08/12/2021Thriving Minds: a series of learning opportunities that offer educators guidance and support on building comprehensive school mental health systems that address the holistic needs of students.
08/05/2021Promoting Student Engagement, Learning, Wellbeing and Safety — School Year 2021-2022 (Released Summer 2021)
07/02/2020 Sign-up to receive the DESE Holistic support and enrichment, SEL, health and safety newsletter and/or information about
opportunities to strengthen comprehensive school mental health efforts
07/02/2020 MA Mental and Behavioral Health COVID-19 Related Resources
06/02/2020 Comprehensive School Mental Health Learning Network
05/29/2020MA Tools for Schools COVID-19 Resources

This website is an introduction to Social and Emotional Learning in Massachusetts Public Schools. The Department commonly uses the Collaborative for Academic, Social, and Emotional Learning (CASEL's), definition of Social and Emotional Learning (SEL): SEL is the process of developing students' and adults' social and emotional competencies-the knowledge, skills, attitudes, and behaviors that individuals need to make successful choices. There are a range of other definitions for Social and Emotional Learning that are also viable.

Social Emotional Learning is a key part of one of the Department's five strategic priorities : Supporting social-emotional learning, health, and safety (also known as the "heart" strategy). Strengthening social and emotional competencies in students and adults also helps further all four themes in the Commissioner's Our Way Forward 2019 report to the Board: Deeper Learning for All; Holistic Support & Enrichment; Innovation & Evidence-Based Practice; and State as a Partner.

Several years ago (2016), the Board of Elementary and Secondary Education (BESE) held a special meeting on Social and Emotional Learning to provide an opportunity for members to hear a number of key ideas, information, and examples from experts in research, policy, and practice, and have the opportunity to discuss the topic of SEL.

This website includes information about the following topics. For more information about any of these resources, email achievement@doe.mass.edu.

SEL website sections


Collaborating States Initiative

Massachusetts is participating in the Collaborative for Academic, Social, and Emotional Learning (CASEL's) Collaborating States Initiative (CSI). The CSI is an inter-state partnership on the development of policies, learning standards or goals, and guidelines to support statewide implementation of social and emotional learning (SEL). This summary document provides brief highlights of the Department's efforts to support SEL during our initial years of participation in the CSI and notes that we are in process of revising the 1999 Massachusetts Comprehensive Health Curriculum Framework .

Learning from CASEL and other participating states has helped the Department further our efforts to:

  • Engage with our stakeholders, especially our teachers, administrators, and specialized instructional support personnel (SISP);
  • Integrate SEL principles with existing policies, resources, and initiatives; and
  • Build useful, well-aligned resources.

CASEL's website has a substantial amount of information about Social and Emotional Learning, including a 2011 meta-analysis of 213 school-based, universal SEL programs which showed that, compared to controls, SEL participants demonstrated significantly improved social and emotional skills, attitudes, behavior, and academic performance that reflected an 11-percentile-point gain in achievement. Additionally, 2017 meta-analysis reviewed 82 school-based, universal SEL interventions. The study found that school-based SEL interventions continue to benefit students for months and even years to come. Moreover, a Columbia University report found that every $1 invested in SEL programming produced on average an $11 return.

Massachusetts districts may find CASEL's Collaborating Districts Initiative website to be a valuable source for SEL resources.

Also Note: In June 2021, CASEL released an updated Program Guide, informed by enhanced criteria . This resource is designed for states, districts, and schools to support evidence-based, equity-focused, systemic SEL.

In July 2020, CASEL made available a resource for schools and districts, Reunite, Renew, and Thrive: Social and Emotional Learning (SEL) Roadmap for Reopening School . This resource can be used in combination with state guidance found on the Department's COVID-19 Information and Resources pages.

Last Updated: June 17, 2022

 
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