Educating the Whole Student through Social Emotional Learning

SCOPEIncreasingly, researchers and educators recognize that schools cannot focus solely on students’ academic learning to improve achievement. They also must nurture students’ psychological development, often described as social emotional learning (SEL). While this new focus on SEL benefits all students, it is especially critical for low-income students and students of color, according to Social Emotional Learning in High School: How Three Urban High Schools Engage, Educate, and Empower Youth, a new study from the Stanford Center for Opportunity Policy in Education (SCOPE).

The SCOPE study examines how three diverse small public high schools have implemented social emotional learning schoolwide and analyzes that implementation across three areas—school climate and culture, organizational features and structures, and school practices. The researchers selected the three schools—Fenway High School (Boston, Massachusetts), El Puente Academy for Peace and Justice (Brooklyn, New York), and International School of the Americas (San Antonio, Texas)—because each school has an explicit schoolwide focus on SEL and demonstrated stronger academic outcomes and graduation rates than similar schools in their districts. Although each school serves fewer than 500 students, each one serves predominantly students of color. At Fenway High School and El Puente Academy for Peace and Justice, the majority of students also qualify for free or reduced-price lunch, while at the International School of the Americas about one-quarter of students qualify for free or reduced-price lunch.

Researchers conducted in-depth case studies of the three SEL high schools, surveyed their students, and compared their responses with a national survey of students in traditional public high schools. Students in the SEL high schools reported a more caring school climate, stronger relationships with teachers, greater engagement with school, stronger feelings of efficacy and resilience, and more ambitious goals for higher education, compared to students not attending SEL schools.

While traditional SEL focuses primarily on students’ abilities to understand themselves and build supportive relationships with others, the schools featured in the SCOPE study take an expanded view of SEL that emphasizes social justice education as a well. The researchers determined that the social justice component enhances SEL by grounding it directly in the needs of the diverse student populations the schools serve and encourages students to examine issues of equity and advancement in their local communities.

“A growing body of research shows that when schools attend to students’ psychological, social, and emotional development alongside academic learning, student engagement and academic achievement improve,” the lead researcher writes in her blog post. “While we can’t clearly prove direct cause and effect between the schools’ social emotional and social justice skill building and positive student responses, our findings suggest these approaches hold promise.”

Social Emotional Learning in High School: How Three Urban High Schools Engage, Educate, and Empower Youth is available at


NCES Releases Digest of Education Statistics

IESOn May 7, 2015, the National Center for Education (NCES) released Digest of Education Statistics, 2013. The Digest’s purpose is to provide a compilation of statistical information covering the broad field of education from prekindergarten through graduate school. The Digest contains data on a variety of topics, including the number of schools and colleges, teachers, enrollments, and graduates, in addition to educational attainment, finances, and federal funds for education, libraries, and international comparisons. Key findings appearing in the Digest include the following:

Fall 2013 marked a new record for public elementary school enrollment, according to projections. Public elementary enrollments are expected to continue increasing, with an overall increase of 5 percent between 2013 and 2023. Public secondary enrollment is expected to increase 3 percent between 2013 and 2023.

Between 1990 and 2012, the status dropout rate—that is, the percentage of 16- to 24-year-olds who have not completed high school and are not enrolled in school—declined from 12.1 to 6.6 percent. Although the status dropout rate declined for both Blacks and Hispanics during this period, their rates (7.5 and 12.7 percent, respectively) remained higher than the rate for Whites (4.3 percent) in 2012.

Between fall 2000 and fall 2010, enrollment in 2-year and 4-year colleges rose 37 percent, from 15.3 million to 21.0 million. Enrollment then decreased 2 percent to 20.6 million in fall 2012.

From 1976 to 2012, the percentage of Hispanic college students rose from 4 percent to 15 percent, the percentage of Asian/Pacific Islander students rose from 2 percent to 6 percent, the percentage of Black students rose from 10 percent to 15 percent, and the percentage of American Indian/Alaska Native students rose from 0.7 to 0.9 percent.

Americans are completing more years of education. The percentage of 25- to 29-year-olds who had completed high school rose from 87 percent in 2003 to 90 percent in 2013. During the same time period, the percentage of young adults with a bachelor’s or higher degree increased from 28 percent to 34 percent.

To view the full report please visit


May Issue Brief: Great Principals

In Case You Missed It!School administrators serve as instructional leaders and set the tone for the culture of a school. The principal’s influence is pivotal. In this month’s issue brief, we explore effective school leadership and recommendations for improving the training, support and evaluation of educational leaders.

What essential skills should principals master in order to be exceptional instructional leaders? What are your go-to tools and resources for the training and support of principals? Please respond to our call for commentary. We’d love to hear from you!

To check out this month’s newsletter and access resources on this month’s topic, please follow this link:

To ensure you do not miss future issues, we encourage you to subscribe to the monthly newsletter by following this link:


Public Comment Sought on Revised Draft Standards for Education Leaders

principal.ashxTwo national education organizations are seeking additional feedback from the public on revised draft standards for education leaders. These standards aim to ensure district and school leaders are able to improve student learning and achievement and meet new, higher expectations. The first public comment period last fall resulted in suggested changes that have been incorporated into this draft of the standards.

For the past 16 months, the Council of Chief State School Officers (CCSSO) and the National Policy Board for Educational Administration (NPBEA) have led an effort to refresh the standards to reflect research-based evidence, practitioner input and experience gained since the last update of the standards in 2008. The Interstate School Leaders Licensure Consortium Standards for School Leaders, known as ISLLC, detail the knowledge and skills effective district and school leaders need in order to build teams of teachers and leaders who improve student learning.

“We strongly encourage the public to review these standards and help us make them even better,” said Chris Minnich, executive director of CCSSO. “We want to hear from teachers and school and district leaders as well as from parents and other stakeholders in public education. Their valuable perspective will help make sure the final ISLLC 2015: Model Policy Standards for Educational Leaders set the right expectations for these critical educators.”

Forty-five states and the District of Columbia, as well as districts, schools and university and nonprofit leadership preparation programs, use the voluntary ISLLC standards to guide preparation, practice, support and evaluations for district and school leaders, including superintendents, principals, assistant principals, and teacher leaders.

The standards are built on a transformational vision of education leadership expressed through seven policy standards. Transformational education leaders:

  • Build a shared vision of student success and well-being.
  • Champion and support instruction and assessment that maximizes student learning and achievement.
  • Manage and develop staff members’ professional skills and practices in order to drive student learning and achievement.
  • Cultivate a caring and inclusive school community dedicated to student learning, academic success and the personal well-being of every student.
  • Coordinate resources, time, structures and roles effectively to build the instructional capacity of teachers and other staff.
  • Engage families and the outside community to promote and support student success.
  • Administer and manage operations efficiently and effectively.

Each of the seven policy standards is accompanied by specific actions that illustrate that standard.

The refreshed standards reflect the changing responsibilities of principals, superintendents and other district-office leaders. As a result of state-level reform measures, principals and other education leaders in most states are implementing higher learning standards to prepare all students for college, careers and life.

The refreshed standards benefitted from extensive involvement of the field and from researchers, including during the first public comment period. More than 1,000 principals and superintendents submitted surveys, and more than 100 participated in focus groups. This second public comment period will ensure that the revised standards truly reflect what effective leadership practice looks like in today’s schools and districts.

Review the standards at:

Provide feedback here: 

The public comment period will last until May 29. CCSSO will use the comments to make additional refinements to the standards, which will be finalized and released this summer.


Human Capital Resources for Schools and Districts

Noyce LogoThe Noyce Foundation supports major research and development efforts by quality national organizations to create new models for the recruitment, compensation, development, evaluation, and accountability of school principals and teachers as well as district and other leaders.

The collection of R&D efforts includes resources from Education Resource Strategies, New Leaders, New Visions for Public Schools, Teach Plus, TNTP and Urban Schools Human Capital Academy. Titles include the following:

Professional Growth Materials

School Design Materials

Teacher Compensation Materials

Great Principals at Scale: Creating Conditions that Enable All Principals to be Effective

Great Principals at Scale Toolkit

Emerging Leaders Program Overview

Emerging Leaders Program Outcomes

SMART Goal Map for Emerging Leaders Program

Data Tools: A Focus on Tableau

Custom Student Sorter Tools

1,000 Teachers Examine PARCC: Perspectives on the Quality of New Assessments

Raising the Bar: The Views of California Teachers on Tenure, Layoffs and Dismissal

Teacher Coaching: Bringing Professional Development into the Classroom

Core Teaching Rubric

SAP’s Instructional Practice Guides

Principal’s Human Resources “Bill of Rights”

Power Metrics

Assess, Breakthrough and Change Tool (ABC): Teacher Quality

Tennessee Principals Receive Coaching on Observing Teachers and Providing Feedback

We find the Noyce Foundation resources to be extremely useful and comprehensive.

For links to each of these resources, see


Testing Two Models for Estimating Teacher Effectiveness

logo-act-printEdgar Sanchez and Yan Zhou, writing for the ACT policy brief, have examined the effects of two different models on estimates of teacher effectiveness. When using value-added models to estimate teacher effectiveness, one key consideration is whether or not to include school effects such as available resources into the model. The authors examined value-added models that did and did not include such school-level information and compared the results.

Key findings in report include:

  • Teacher effectiveness estimates from both kinds of models were highly correlated.
  • When school-level effects were accounted for, fewer teachers were found to be significantly different from the average teacher. The model that does not account for school-level effects identified a greater number of higher- and lower-performing teachers.
  • There was a high agreement rate on the identification of teachers who were not significantly different from the average teacher whether or not school-level effects were taken into account.
  • School-level variance tended to be larger than teacher-level variance. That said, student-level characteristics accounted for considerably more of the variance in student achievement scores.

The report concludes, “If there is a strong theoretical basis for believing that school differences have an important influence on student achievement, it would be appropriate to use a three-level VAM [i.e., a model that accounts for school-level effects]. This type of model will estimate teacher impacts on student achievement while accounting for important school-level factors such as resource allocation.

To read the report, visit


NASBE Resource Guides States through Science Standards Adoption

INASBEmplementing, revising, adapting, or adopting new academic standards is a significant undertaking that requires extensive support, planning, and resources. Where do state policymakers begin? A new NASBE resource, New Science Standards: A Readiness Assessment for State Boards of Education, guides state boards of education through the complex process of reviewing, adopting, and implementing new science standards, such as the Next Generation Science Standards.

Central to the resource is “self-assessment matrix” that walks states through a series of questions to gauge their overall readiness to adopt and implement science standards, identify gaps, determine which processes and policies are appropriate, and monitor progress toward implementation. The guide also includes suggestions for policymakers to begin communicating key decisions to the public.

To access the resource, see:


Funding Gaps 2015: Widening Funding Gap Between School Districts

FundingGaps2015-600x776School districts that serve the highest percentages of low-income students and students of color receive significantly less in local and state funding than districts that serve predominantly white and affluent students, according to a new report from the Education Trust (Ed Trust) and a separate analysis by the U.S. Department of Education (ED). And that funding gap is widening.

In Funding Gaps 2015, Ed Trust finds that the highest poverty school districts nationwide receive about $1,200, or 10 percent, less per student in local and state funds than the lowest poverty districts. Meanwhile, districts serving predominantly students of color receive approximately $2,000, or 15 percent, less per student than districts serving mostly white students. In the report, Ed Trust focuses specifically on local and state funding data from Fiscal Years (FYs) 2010–12, the most recent years available. The analysis excludes federal funding because federal dollars typically provide supplemental and targeted support to specific student groups. The analysis does not compare funding between individual districts, but rather examines funding levels for quartiles of school districts with the highest and lowest poverty levels and the quartiles with the highest and lowest concentrations of students of color.

The researchers also examined funding levels between quartiles of districts within each state and found considerable variation in the levels of funding the poorest and wealthiest districts receive. The highest poverty districts in six states receive between 6 percent and 20 percent less in state and local funding than the lowest poverty districts in their respective states, according to Ed Trust. Seventeen states, meanwhile, provide the highest poverty districts with between 5 percent and 22 percent more in local and state funds.

“Our data show that the students needing the most supports are given the least,” said Natasha Ushomirsky, K–12 senior data and policy analyst and coauthor of the report. “As conversations on how to improve achievement for our nation’s youth, particularly those who start school academically behind, are hotly debated in statehouses across the nation, closing long-standing funding gaps must be addressed. While money isn’t the only thing that matters for student success, it most certainly matters. Districts with more resources can, for example, use those funds to attract stronger teachers and principals and to offer students more academic support.”

Funding Gaps 2015 is available at and ED’s data on school district expenditures is available at


Fearless Teaching

core ed 1Shanna Peeples, recently named National Teacher of the Year, published on her blog a speech that she delivered in DC during her selection process.

I don’t want to offend you, but I have to tell you that I will be talking about the f-word today.

And that f-word is a four-letter word that’s as obscene as any you’re likely to be exposed to because that f-word is fear.

And I know a lot about fear. I was raised in it by a father who drank to escape it and a mother so fearful of life that she isolated herself from even her children. I come from the fallout of fear: domestic violence, addiction, abuse and neglect. However, what I know about fear is that even though my parents were both strangled by it, they encouraged me to be brave where they could not. And thankfully, I had teachers who made school my sanctuary…

As teachers, we have to face down normal fears of a lesson falling apart or the possibility of losing control of a class. But the fear I’m talking about as a problem goes beyond that to the fear of judgement over student scores or fear of being the one who will tank the school’s performance rating…

When we risk being authentic in our process, our products and our purpose, we teach our students faith rather than fear. We make a way for our best selves and their limitless possibility. We teach them the most important lesson: it can be done.

To read the entire speech, see



Increasing Academic and Career Achievement with Lifelong Learning Skills

ccrsc-logoLifelong learning skills provide the foundation for learning and working. They broadly support student thinking, self-management, and social interaction, enabling the pursuit of education and career goals. Collectively, lifelong learning skills enable students to master academic content and translate knowledge into action.

There is a growing consensus among researchers that lifelong learning skills are identifiable and support college and career readiness and success for students. In an attempt to consolidate some of the key evidence behind lifelong learning skills, the College and Career Readiness and Success (CCRS) Center has developed a policy brief, Lifelong Learning Skills for College and Career Readiness: Considerations for Education Policy that summarizes a broadly applicable and representative sample of this research.

The research and recommendations are broken down into 3 main categories:

  • Critical thinking, problem solving, creativity
  • Self-regulation, conscientiousness, mind-sets, and motivation
  • Social and emotional skills

Should there be any doubt or need to convince any fellow educators of the efficacy of these skills and the importance of ensuring that they are part of instruction in American schools, this is the source to consult.

For more information, please visit: