A majority of educators responding to an Education Week Research Center poll said social-emotional learning is an effective way to improve student achievement, reduce discipline problems, and improve school climate. But there are some telling gaps in perception between teachers and administrators.
Of the responding administrators, 60.5 percent said more than half of their school’s students have strong social and emotional skills. Of responding teachers, 46.5 percent said the majority of students at their schools have such skills.
Administrators also had a rosier view of their school’s climate, student behavior, and engagement and motivation than teachers, the survey shows.
Leaders of districtwide social-emotional-learning initiatives say those gaps in perception are a major challenge to the success of such efforts.
The eight large districts that have worked with the Chicago-based Collaborative for Academic, Social, and Emotional Learning to launch districtwide, comprehensive social-emotional-learning plans try to get principals, teachers, and other school staff on board by holding regular meetings, administering teacher surveys, and working with outside evaluators to gauge whether the programs are being implemented consistently across all schools.
The survey asked about a broad range of topics related to social-emotional-learning strategies and programs, school climate, and student engagement.
The Education Week Research Center administered the survey in April to a random sample ofregistrants who had previously identified themselves as classroom teachers, instructional specialists, or school-based administrators.
Of 709 total survey responses, 562 qualified for inclusion in the study based on self-identification as a teacher or school-based administrator. Educators who do not work at the school level were excluded from the analysis.
The center did not use weighted adjustments to account for geography, respondent characteristics, or school factors.
Of all respondents, 49.9 percent said their school pays “about the right amount of attention” to social and emotional learning, 48.2 percent said their school pays “too little attention,” and 1.9 percent said their school pays “too much attention.”
Coverage of school climate and student behavior and engagement is supported in part by grants from the Atlantic Philanthropies, the NoVo Foundation, the Raikes Foundation, and the California Endowment. Education Week retains sole editorial control over the content of this coverage.
A version of this article appeared in the June 10, 2015 edition of Education Week as Survey: Students Need More Than Academic Prowess