The psychological, social, and emotional aspects of education—so-called “noncognitive factors” and “soft skills”—have gained traction in recent years among educators as well as the wider public as major drivers of student achievement. From developing grit and a growth mindset, to learning collaboration and perspective-taking skills, to fostering student belonging and inclusion, psychological resources are critical to student success and to a 21st century education. This renewed attention represents an important shift, as social and emotional supports for students in school have frequently been called the “missing piece” in the accountability-driven practices that are the legacy of No Child Left Behind. Further, failing to meet students’ psychological, social, and emotional needs will continue to fuel gaps in opportunity and achievement for students—in particular, low-income students and students of color—who are frequently underserved by the schools they attend.
Researchers in the field of social emotional learning are working to understand how schools can effectively implement and sustain practices that meet students’ social and emotional needs as well as provide them with the opportunity to learn adaptive skills and strategies to succeed both inside and outside of the classroom. Much of the existing research in the field has focused on elementary and, to a lesser extent, middle schools, where fostering social and emotional skills is often seen as part of the educational mission and early intervention is possible. As a result, little is known about what effective social emotional learning practice looks like at the high school level—a gap that this study seeks to fill.
Through in-depth case studies of three urban, socioeconomically and racially diverse small public high schools, a student survey, and a comparison of student survey results to a national sample of students, Hamedani et al. investigate the ways in which school-wide social emotional learning can be implemented and how these efforts shape students’ educational experiences. A particular feature of the schools they study is that they draw on an expanded vision of social emotional learning that includes social justice education as a means to develop social responsibility and empower the student communities they serve as well as provide a culturally relevant, asset-based, and identity-safe education.
SCOPE's Social Emotional Learning in Diverse High Schools Study produced a series of reports that detail effective social emotional learning practices at three socioeconomically and racially diverse small public high schools located in Boston, Brooklyn, and San Antonio.
A new book, Global Education Reform: How Privatization and Public Investment Influence Education Outcomes, provides a powerful analysis of these different ends of an ideological spectrum – from market-based experiments to strong state investments in public education.