Welcome to the winter edition of The PAR Quarterly. This newsletter is designed to highlight topics of interest to you, our Customers. In this issue, we focus on social and emotional learning (SEL) from the perspectives of both assessment and intervention.
SEL in the News
Recent research confirms what you see every day in your office, in the classroom, and on the playground: Children with strong social and emotional skills are more likely to do well in school. A 2011 landmark study of more than 270,000 students in kindergarten through high school stated 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” (Child Development, January/February 2011). The study, conducted by researchers at Loyola University and the University of Illinois at Chicago, concludes, “Policy makers, educators, and the public can contribute to healthy development of children by supporting the incorporation of evidence-based SEL programming into standard educational practice” (http://casel.org/wp-content/uploads/2011/04/Meta-Analysis-Child-Development-Full-Article.pdf).
In response to the growing body of research on the importance of social and emotional learning, most states now have SEL goals and benchmarks integrated into their academic standards for K-12, and several states have adopted comprehensive SEL standards. For up-to-date information about standards and requirements in your state, visit www.casel.org/research/sel-in-your-state/.
SEL Assessment: A Solution from PAR
Educators need practical ways to evaluate the social-emotional skills of large groups of children and adolescents, assessments that can be given to an entire classroom, grade level, or school at the same time. The new Social Emotional Assets and Resilience Scales™ (SEARS) is designed to assess the positive social-emotional attributes of children and adolescents. This strength-based assessment is closely tied to the positive psychology movement: Rather than measuring deficits, it focuses on a child’s assets and strengths.
- The SEARS can be used with children and adolescents who have or are at risk for high-functioning autism or Asperger’s disorder, conduct disorders, ADHD, and internalizing disorders.
- SEARS scoring was specifically designed to work within the Response to Intervention (RTI) model used by many schools.
- The SEARS system offers separate short forms with just 12 items each—a practical choice for classroom or school-wide screening.
Intervention: Developing Social-Emotional Skills and Resilience
What interventions are most effective in helping students develop social-emotional skills and build resilience? Strong Kids™: A Social and Emotional Learning Curriculum is a practical, proactive, evidence-based intervention, and a number of studies have already confirmed its efficacy. In “Promoting Social and Emotional Learning in Second Grade Students: A Study of the Strong Start Curriculum,” published in the Early Childhood Education Journal (2009), the authors conclude, “Results revealed statistically significant and meaningful improvement in teacher ratings of students’ internalizing and peer-related pro-social behaviors, particularly for students at greater risk.” Used in tandem, the SEARS and the Strong Kids curriculum provide a complete, practical way to assess and develop students’ social-emotional assets.
To learn more about how the SEARS and the Strong Kids curriculum can support social-emotional learning in your school, please explore the links above—or contact me directly. I am always happy to speak with Customers!
- The Collaborative for Academic, Social, and Emotional Learning (www.casel.org) is an excellent resource with information on SEL research, standards, professional development, advocacy, and more.
- Edutopia, the George Lucas Foundation’s Web site for “What Works in Education” (www.edutopia.org), is another valuable source of information on social and emotional learning; their introductory videos and blogs provide a good starting point for educators who want to share information about SEL with classroom teachers, parents, and other members of the community.
- The National School Climate Center, founded by clinical psychologist and author Jonathan Cohen (Caring Classrooms/Intelligent Schools: Social Emotional Education of Young Children, Teachers College Press, 2001) provides guidelines for promoting a positive school climate through social and emotional learning; visit their Web site at www.schoolclimate.org.
PAR exhibits at many conferences and conventions, and we offer workshops on many of our products. For a complete list of upcoming conferences, please visit our Web site at www.parinc.com. If you are planning to attend any of our conferences, please stop by the PAR booth to say hello, take a look at our latest products, and receive a free PAR door hanger. We look forward to meeting you!
We hope that you find this newsletter to be informative and useful—please feel free to pass it along to any members of your staff who may be interested, as well. Here at PAR, we truly appreciate the opportunity to serve as a resource for the important work that you do.