Student Well-Being

Survey Suggests Social and Emotional Learning Has Staked a Claim in Schools

By Holly Kurtz — June 30, 2015 3 min read
  • Save to favorites
  • Print

In a curriculum crowded with an ever-expanding array of initiatives and subjects, social and emotional learning has established its importance in the eyes of 500-plus teachers and school-based administrators who took an Education Week Research Center survey on the topic this spring.

About two thirds of respondents (67 percent) perceived that social and emotional learning is “very important” to student achievement, according to a survey analysis published Tuesday. That’s up from 54 percent in 2014, when the research center asked educators the same question on a different survey.

For the purposes of the survey, social and emotional learning was defined as education related to the “management of emotions, relationships, and decision-making.”

Even as schools tackle the often time-consuming tasks related to common core implementation, the attention paid to social and emotional learning has not waned, survey results suggest. More than 70 percent of respondents whose schools were adapting to the standards reported that attention to social and emotional learning had increased or remained the same since implementation began.

In the current age of accountability, it’s often true that what gets measured gets managed. More than two thirds of educators said their schools measured social and emotional learning. Classroom observations were the most common assessment tools, and their results were most frequently used to identify students who needed assistance and to assign them to specific interventions.

Although survey results suggested that social and emotional learning has established a foothold in schools, respondents also identified challenges and needs. Just under half of respondents said their schools paid too little attention to social and emotional learning. More than two thirds indicated they had had some training in social and emotional learning and that they wanted more. In responding to an open-ended question about their greatest social and emotional learning challenges, roughly one in three respondents lamented that other things took priority, leaving limited time for social and emotional learning.

“There is a tremendous amount of content to cover in class, particularly since the transition to common core and the resulting SBAC [Smarter Balanced Assessment Consortium] assessments,” one such respondent wrote. “Social / Emotional learning, if not properly embedded throughout the lessons throughout the year, can feel like one more gimmicky ideology tacked onto education, void of real meaning for students and teachers, but nonetheless an ideology that looks good on paper. In order to have true long lasting success, social / emotional learning needs to occur in all the classes, not just isolated in AVID [Advancement Via Individual Determination] or interventions for at-risk students, consistently throughout the year.”

In another open-ended question, respondents were asked to identify the most effective strategies they used to improve students’ social and emotional learning. The most frequent response reflected the comment above, with educators suggesting that social and emotional learning needed to be integrated into existing curriculum and school activities.

The results described above are based on an online survey that the Education Week Research Center distributed in April 2015 to a random sample of registrants who had previously identified themselves as classroom teachers, instructional specialists, or school-based administrators. Although the sample was not statistically representative of the nation’s educators, the respondents were a diverse group of teachers and administrators representing a wide range of grade levels, experience, and school settings. The 2015 survey analysis included 562 educators while the 2014 analysis included a similar sample of 504 respondents.

The Education Week Research Center is a division of Editorial Projects in Education, the non-profit organization that publishes Education Week. The social and emotional learning survey was conducted with support from the Atlantic Philanthropies, the California Endowment, the NoVo Foundation, and the Raikes Foundation, which also support coverage of school climate issues in Education Week.

The full report can be found here.

Holly Yettick directs the Education Week Research Center.


Want more research news? Get the latest studies and join the conversation.

A version of this news article first appeared in the Inside School Research blog.

Commenting has been disabled on effective Sept. 8. Please visit our FAQ section for more details. To get in touch with us visit our contact page, follow us on social media, or submit a Letter to the Editor.


This content is provided by our sponsor. It is not written by and does not necessarily reflect the views of Education Week's editorial staff.
Teaching Webinar
6 Key Trends in Teaching and Learning
As we enter the third school year affected by the pandemic—and a return to the classroom for many—we come better prepared, but questions remain. How will the last year impact teaching and learning this school
Content provided by Instructure
This content is provided by our sponsor. It is not written by and does not necessarily reflect the views of Education Week's editorial staff.
Equity & Diversity Webinar
Evaluating Equity to Drive District-Wide Action this School Year
Educational leaders are charged with ensuring all students receive equitable access to a high-quality education. Yet equity is more than an action. It is a lens through which we continuously review instructional practices and student
Content provided by BetterLesson
This content is provided by our sponsor. It is not written by and does not necessarily reflect the views of Education Week's editorial staff.
Student Well-Being Webinar
Attendance Awareness Month: The Research Behind Effective Interventions
More than a year has passed since American schools were abruptly closed to halt the spread of COVID-19. Many children have been out of regular school for most, or even all, of that time. Some
Content provided by AllHere

EdWeek Top School Jobs

Teacher Jobs
Search over ten thousand teaching jobs nationwide — elementary, middle, high school and more.
View Jobs
Principal Jobs
Find hundreds of jobs for principals, assistant principals, and other school leadership roles.
View Jobs
Administrator Jobs
Over a thousand district-level jobs: superintendents, directors, more.
View Jobs
Support Staff Jobs
Search thousands of jobs, from paraprofessionals to counselors and more.
View Jobs

Read Next

Student Well-Being Opinion Educators, Be Future-Ready, But Don’t Ignore the Present
Being ready for what lies ahead is important, but we also need to gain a better understanding of the here and now.
5 min read
shutterstock 226918177
Student Well-Being Opinion How to Prioritize Student Well-Being This Year
Use the Student Thriving Index to find out where your kids stand. Because you cannot manage what you cannot measure.
2 min read
Images shows a stylized artistic landscape with soothing colors.
Student Well-Being Spotlight Spotlight on Supporting Teachers & Students
In this Spotlight, evaluate your district and what supports your schools offer, assess attendance policies to avoid burnout, and more
Student Well-Being What the Research Says Child Hospitalizations Spike Under Delta, Particularly in Low-Vaccination States
Nationwide, the number of children and teens hospitalized due to COVID-19 has ballooned nearly tenfold since midsummer, new CDC data show.
2 min read
hopital stethescope 1222194507
Aleksandr Titov/iStock/Getty