Program Design Table Elements
Grade range covered. This column lists the full range of grade levels the program targets at the middle and high school level.
Grades Evaluated. This column specifies the grade levels of all students included in the program’s qualifying evaluation(s).
Approaches to Promoting SEL. This element contains four columns that represent classroom and school-based approaches to promoting SEL. The first three approaches infuse SEL throughout classroom teaching or the broader school environment. The fourth approach involves the use of free standing lessons. Some programs use more than one approach so they may have checks in multiple columns since they are not mutually exclusive. For this element programs were rated according to whether the particular method was used prominently.
- Teaching Practices. A program received a check in this column if it focused on training teachers to use at least two of the four categories of teaching practices included in the classroom setting level. These include specific instructional practices, pedagogies, and classroom management techniques that create a positive classroom climate that supports SEL or teaching practices that promote the generalization of SEL skills by students in applied settings. These teaching practices are designed to engage students actively in learning while also supporting students’ social and emotional development.
- In Academic Curriculum. Programs received a check in this column if they embed the teaching of social and emotional skills in a core academic subject. A program was considered infused in an academic curriculum when it had lessons that covered core academic content while also developing social and emotional competencies. For these programs the core academic subject area is noted.
- Organizational. Programs received a check in this column if their approach to SEL significantly reorganizes policies and organizational structures (e.g., leadership teams, advisories, schedules) throughout the school. This approach is equivalent to a school reform model and often requires a strong commitment on the part of schools and a high level of initial and ongoing professional development to be implemented with quality.
- Free Standing SEL Lessons. Programs received a check in this column if they included directly teaching SEL skills in free standing lessons. The content of these lessons typically focuses on skills that can be broadly applied to a variety of situations such as making friends, working cooperatively with others, coping with stress, making decisions about potentially risky behaviors, and resolving interpersonal conflicts.
Number of SEL Lessons. For programs that used (and received a check mark for) free-standing SEL lessons (described above under Approaches to Promoting SEL), this column presents the total number of free-standing lessons across the available years of the program.
Settings that Promote and Extend SEL
- Classroom. The rating in this column reflects the extent to which each program contains specific strategies that introduce and/or support SEL in the classroom setting including: classroom-based lessons that provide direct instruction and practice in SEL; instructional practices that create a learning environment that promotes student SEL); teaching practices to promote positive relationships with and among students; shared classroom agreements that involve all students developing norms or behavioral guidelines to create a positive and orderly classroom experience; guidelines for how to create SEL lessons that directly support teachers in developing SEL lessons on their own; classroom management procedures and strategies aimed at promoting responsible decision-making and intrinsic motivation to behave respectfully in the classroom. A program that included free-standing SEL lessons was eligible to receive credit for SEL generalization if it provided suggestions for ways in which teachers can reinforce social and emotional development by taking advantage of “teachable moments” beyond the SEL lesson in other curriculum areas.
- School. The rating in this column reflects the extent to which programs provided structures and strategies to extend the program throughout the school, including systemic support for SEL including structures to support SEL implementation and strategies for building a schoolwide sense of community; advisory structures; systemic integration of SEL and instruction which involves embedding program content or practices across multiple subject areas; cross-age or cross-subjects peer mentoring to enhance students’ sense of connection to school and to provide academic support; student support strategies for working with students at the Tier 2 and Tier 3 level (as described in the Response to Intervention framework).
- Family. The rating in this column reflects the extent to which programs had strategies for extending SEL to the family, including: a family program component with a manual for leading sessions with parents, or parent self-directed material, such as media; separate resources for parents, (e.g., about teens’ developmental needs); suggestions for how to involve parents in supporting student homework or actual homework assignments that require parental involvement; strategies for communicating with families about their children; and explicit strategies for engaging parents actively in the life of the school, such as enhancing general school-home communication, as well as encouraging families to come to the school.
- Community. The rating in this column reflects the extent to which a program works to promote SEL in students through connections to and involvement with the broader community, including suggestions for creating a community advisory board; guidelines for building connections with community partners outside the classroom; involving stakeholders in various roles (e.g., arranging outside visitors, soliciting financial support); and connecting students to individuals in the community who are willing to share their expertise or provide students with real-world experiences. Service-learning is an important way programs involve students in the community, and in making positive contributions to their community. In its simplest form service-learning involves creating activities in which students spend time engaged in school- or community-based volunteer work. More ambitious service-learning programs may include a module that offers practices, guidelines, and suggestions for how to connect SEL skills students are learning in school to real-life applications in service projects. In-class preparation for a service-learning project, and a process for reflection following the experience, are both integral to effective service-learning. At the highest level a program might provide strategies for community-based academic learning. The goal would be to provide students with the opportunity to apply their academic skills toward community improvement. In fieldwork students may become active investigators, applying research tools, techniques of inquiry, and standards of presentation used by professionals in the field.
- Service-learning was implemented to varying degrees. These ranged from a basic community-based volunteer work to having guidelines on how to connect SEL skills students are learning to real-life applications in service projects. At the highest level service-learning was integrated with academics through academic field work that also contributed to the greater good (e.g., active investigators, applying research tools, and standards of presentation used by professionals in the field).
Implementation Support Table Elements
- Recommended Training Model. In this column we describe the program’s recommended training model, including information about the total number of days and the length of time required for training. Program providers were encouraged to identify the model that is comprehensive and best conveys all their practices and content even if this is not the most popular model. In many cases this model is not as rigorous as what was used in the evaluation studies that qualified for this review.
- Format. This element contains three columns that reflect how the recommended training is offered. Programs are given a check for three different options: (1) onsite in-person, led by a trainer from the program who comes to the school or district; (2) onsite virtual, in which the training is offered at the school or district but involves some form of live interactive webcast/Skyping over the internet or pre-programmed structured videos accessed through the program’s website with special access included in the purchase of the program; (3) offsite, in which school personnel travel to an offsite location (e.g., regional training offered to multiple schools/districts or at the headquarters of the program, a conference at a remote location that also includes a range of trainings, or a conference where the program offers its training as a pre- or post-conference activity). The format options are not mutually exclusive.
- Technical assistance and implementation supports. This element describes four major types of technical assistance and other supports that have been shown in research to promote high-quality implementation and sustainability over time.
Train the Trainer. A check in this column refers to whether the program provides training for a teacher or designated SEL district educator/mentor designed to teach not only the program content but also how to train others. In turn, this individual becomes the designated school/district “trainer” who then trains the school’s/district’s teachers and administrators.
- Administrator Support. A check in this column indicates that a component of the recommended training model is designed specifically for school/district administrators and leaders to support them in implementing the program within their school or district.
- Coaching. A check in this column refers to a type of ongoing regular support that a program provides teachers (or administrators) after the initial training that involves feedback regarding program use.
- Professional Learning Community (PLC). A check in this column indicates that the program provides guidelines or materials to support groups of teachers, staff, and/or administrators/district leaders to meet independently to discuss and problem-solve, learn and share new skills, and/or network for the purposes of enhancing and sustaining high-quality implementation.
- Fidelity Measures. A check in this column indicates that the program includes any type of measure (rating scales, observer-based observations, self-report questionnaires, checklists) designed to assess and monitor program implementation.
Evidence of Effectiveness Table Elements
- Study Demographics. This element includes two columns that summarize information about the participants across the evaluation(s) that qualified for this review. The Grades Evaluated column reports the grade levels of all students included in the program’s qualifying evaluation(s). The Race/Ethnicity column reports the Race/Ethnicity of the students represented in the program’s qualifying evaluation(s) (listed in alphabetical order). Grade level and Race/Ethnicity groups listed in this table represented at least 10% of the analytic sample (i.e., sample used for analysis).
- Study Design. This element presents the methodological design of the evaluation(s) that met our inclusion criteria. It is composed of two columns: randomized controlled trials (RCT), meaning schools, classrooms, or students were randomly assigned either to receive the program or to be in a group that did not receive the program (a high standard in research), and quasi-experimental (QE), meaning assignment to the program and the comparison conditions was not random. The total number of each type of evaluation that met criteria for this review is listed in parentheses next to the checkmark.
- Outcomes Demonstrating Effects. This element includes 6 columns. For each program, we specify the types of outcomes documented in the qualifying evaluation(s), indicated by a checkmark in the respective outcome column. Six categories of evaluation outcomes were identified for review: improved academic performance, improved positive social behavior, reduced emotional distress, improved SEL skills and attitudes, and improved teaching practices. Although impact on teaching practices is included as an outcome category in this table, programs were also required to show impact on at least one of the other five student outcomes to be included as a SELect program in this Guide.
- Citation. We provide a citation for each evaluation determined to support the effectiveness of the program.
- Study Design. We specify whether an evaluation was coded as an RCT or QE, based on the method of group assignment and methodological rigor of the study.
- Grades Evaluated. The grade levels of the students who participated in the evaluation and were shown to experience positive effects of the program are reported in this column only if the grade level comprised at least 10% of an evaluation’s analytic sample (i.e., sample used for analysis).
- Geographic Location. This column reflects whether the evaluation sample was described as “Urban,” “Suburban,” “Rural,” or any combination of the three. An evaluation was coded for a particular geographic location if at least 10% of students in its analytic sample reported living in that location type.
- Race/Ethnicity Evaluated. A race/ethnicity group is listed in this column only if at least 10% of an evaluation’ analytic sample reported this as their race/ethnicity. Categories are listed in alphabetical order.
- Study Sample Size: We indicate the number of students/participants in the analytic sample for a given evaluation.
- % Reduced Lunch. We indicate the percent of an evaluation’s analytic sample that qualified for free or reduced lunch, according to federal criteria at the time the study was conducted since many school-based evaluations use this indicator as a proxy for economic disadvantage.
- Post-Test Effects. We list the categories of outcomes that were shown to be significantly and positively impacted by a program at post-test.
- Follow-Up Effects. We list the categories of outcomes that were shown to be significantly and positively impacted by a program, as indicated by an assessment conducted after a period of time in which participants did not receive the program and that followed post-test assessment.