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Social and Emotional Learning

The vision

All students graduate from Connecticut schools with the social and emotional skills to thrive in postsecondary education, career, and citizenship. Schools provide social and emotional learning (SEL) and, when students have behavioral and mental health issues, schools work closely with community organizations to address students’ needs.

Why is this important?

We live in a world of increasing stressors. Unlike previous generations, today’s students are less protected from the world. They are inundated by social media with cyber-bullying, a violent 24-hour news cycle, and constant pressure to conform to unrealistic stereotypes of masculinity and femininity. As parents work longer hours,31 students need additional guidance and support from schools around developing social and emotional skills – and interventions to avoid a crisis. This can both help students manage stress and to develop positive social interactions, but evidence suggests that emotional intelligence is a better predictor of success than intellectual aptitude.32 But the two abilities are linked: without social and emotional intelligence, it can be difficult to focus on academics.

SEL helps students develop self-control, social awareness and group participation skills, and strategies for making decisions and solving problems – and using these skills when under stress.33  SEL programs are linked to improved academic achievement, improved attendance, and reductions in dropout rates.34  Like other important skills, social and emotional intelligence is most effective when integrated into core learning activities: teaching students to work in teams, to effectively communicate their opinions, and to actively listen to peers. Further social and emotional skills are learned over time, so schools should begin SEL in kindergarten and develop those skills over the 13 years of schooling.35


31     Labor statistics show that adults working full time are working 47 hours per week, by some estimates the hours worked by parents is up 400% since the 1950s. See: and
32     Goleman, D. Emotional Intelligence: Why It Can Matter More than IQ. New York: Bantam Books, 1995.
33     Kress, J. Norris, J., Schoenholz, D., Elias, M., Seigle, P., (2004). “Bringing Together Educational Standards and Social and Emotional Learning: Making the Case for Educators,” American Journal of Education 111 (November 2004) Chicago, IL: University of Chicago.
34     Durlak, J., Weissberg, R., Dymnicki, A., Taylor, R. & Schellinger, K. (2011). The impact of enhancing students’ social and emotional learning: A meta-analysis of school-based universal interventions. Child Development, 82(1): 405–432.; Greenberg, M., Weissberg, R., Utne, M., Zins, J., Fredericks, L., Resnik, H., Elias, M. (2003).”Enhancing School-Based Prevention and Youth Development Through Coordinated Social, Emotional, and Academic Learning,” American Psychologist June/July 2003 Vol. 58, No. 6/7, 466–474.
35     Elias, M. (2006).”The Connection Between Academic and Social-Emotional Learning,” The Educator’s Guide to Emotional Intelligence and Academic Achievement, edited by Maurice J. Elias and Harriett Arnold. Thousand Oaks, CA: Corwin Press.