SEL Programs have Long-term Impact

Social and emotional learning (SEL) programs, which previously have been shown to immediately improve mental health, social skills, and academic achievement, continue to benefit students for months and even years to come, according to new research (Promoting Positive Youth Development Through School-Based Social and Emotional Learning Interventions: A Meta-Analysis of Follow-Up Effects) from the Collaborative for Academic, Social and Emotional Learning (CASEL), the University of Illinois at Chicago, Loyola University, and the University of British Columbia.

For example, 3.5 years later, SEL students’ academic performance was an average 13 percentiles higher than their non-SEL peers. At other follow-up periods, conduct problems, emotional distress, and drug use were all significantly lower for SEL students. Benefits were similar regardless of students’ race, socioeconomic background, or school location.

The new study analyzed results from 82 different interventions involving more than 97,000 students from kindergarten to high school where the effects were assessed at least six months and up to 18 years after the programs ended. Thirty-eight of the studies were from outside the U.S., indicating that SEL programs are being conducted in several countries around the world.

Social and emotional learning teaches children to recognize and understand their emotions, feel empathy, make decisions, and build and maintain relationships. A widely cited 2011 meta-analysis showed that incorporating these programs into classrooms and schools improves learning outcomes and reduces anxiety and behavioral problems among students.

For the new report, see

For the 2011 meta-analysis, see