The Case for SEL

students shaking hands in library

The Case for SEL

Social Emotional Learning

Social and emotional learning (SEL) is the process through which children and adults understand and manage emotions, set and achieve positive goals, feel and show empathy for others, establish and maintain positive relationships, and make responsible decisions.

More than two decades ago, the Collaborative for Academic, Social, and Emotional Learning (CASEL) defined Social Emotional Learning and set out on a mission to make it an integral part of education. Today, they are a trusted source for high-quality, evidence-based social and emotional learning.

The CASEL Framework

Five Core Competencies of SEL

The 5 Core competencies of SEL


The ability to accurately recognize one’s emotions and thoughts and their influence on behavior. This includes accurately assessing one’s strengths and limitations and possessing a well-grounded sense of confidence and optimism.


The ability to regulate one’s emotions, thoughts, and behaviors effectively in different situations. This includes managing stress, controlling impulses, motivating oneself, and setting and working toward achieving personal and academic goals.

Social Awareness

The ability to take the perspective of and empathize with others from diverse backgrounds and cultures, to understand social and ethical norms for behavior, and to recognize family, school, and community resources and supports.

Relationship Skills

The ability to establish and maintain healthy and rewarding relationships with diverse individuals and groups. This includes communicating clearly, listening actively, cooperating, resisting inappropriate social pressure, negotiating conflict constructively, and seeking and offering help when needed.

Responsible Decision-Making

The ability to make constructive and respectful choices about personal behavior and social interactions based on consideration of ethical standards, safety concerns, social norms, the realistic evaluation of consequences of various actions, and the well-being of self and others.

Social Emotional Learning Results

The Impact of SEL

SEL programming can have a positive impact on academics, conduct problems, emotional distress, and drug use, even up 18 years later. States that have mandated social emotional learning are surpassing their peers in graduation rates, seeing higher secondary education attainment, noting a reduction in bullying, and overall, better day-to-day behavior.

11 %

Increase in Achievement Tests Scores


Students receiving comprehensive social and emotional learning instruction increased their achievement test scores by 11 percent.

59 %

Of Hiring Managers Look for SEL Traits

Career Readiness

The soft skills developed by social and emotional learning are exactly what 59% of hiring managers look for in new hires.

93 %

Of Teachers Believe SEL is Important


A national survey found that 93% of teachers PreK-12th believe that SEL is very or fairly important for the in-school experience.

$ 11

Return on SEL Spending (per $1 invested)


Columbia University found that an $11 return for every $1 invested in SEL programming.

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