School Climate & Safety Report Roundup

Social and Emotional Lessons Pay Off, According to Study

By Evie Blad — March 03, 2015 1 min read
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For every dollar schools spend on six commonly used social-emotional-learning programs, those interventions return an average $11 worth of benefits to society.

That’s the finding of a study released last week by the Center for Benefit-Cost Studies of Education at Teachers College, Columbia University.

To arrive at their conclusions, researchers analyzed existing evaluations of six prominent social-emotional-learning programs designed for use in K-12 schools. They are: 4R’s, Life Skills Training, Positive Action, Responsive Classroom, Second Step, and Social and Emotional Skills Training.

“We estimate each intervention’s costs based on the ingredients employed during the implementation previously evaluated,” the report says. Costs included personnel, materials and equipment, facilities, and other inputs.

Information on program effects was drawn from previous research on the interventions.

Researchers estimated benefits by measuring the financial impacts of the interventions’ outcomes. For example, a successful bullying intervention may reduce missed school days that can cause students to struggle and need extra academic supports, and it may reduce the amount of costly personnel time that staff members spend addressing student complaints. And programs that lead to improved academic results may lead to higher income for students later in life.

“In the past, [cost-benefit] studies have been limited largely to increases in educational attainment and to improvements in cognitive test scores,” the report says.

“But it is now becoming widely recognized that social and emotional learning in schools can be as important as or even more important than cognitive gains in explaining important developmental and life outcomes,” the authors conclude.

The study was requested by the Chicago-based Collaborative for Academic, Social, and Emotional Learning, or CASEL, and the NoVo Foundation, based in New York City. The latter helps support coverage of school climate issues in Education Week.

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A version of this article appeared in the March 04, 2015 edition of Education Week as Social and Emotional Lessons Pay Off, According to Study

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