Research from CASEL on SEL

What are the outcomes of well-designed and well-implemented SEL programs? 

From: Durlak et al (2011) Child Development, 82, 405–432


This meta-analysis (study of studies) of 213 studies of programs involving 270,034 students reported:

•9% decrease in conduct problems, such as classroom misbehavior and aggression
•10% decrease in emotional distress, such as anxiety and depression
•9% improvement in attitudes about self, others, and school
•23% improvement in social and emotional skills
•9% improvement in school and classroom behavior
•11 % improvement in achievement test scores
Other Findings from the meta-analysis:
  • Improvements were only seen in programs delivered with fidelity (incorporating all aspects as designed with well-trained teachers).
  • Improvements were only seen when classroom  teachers were the implementers, not outside experts.
Only those programs that met the “SAFE” criteria showed these effects:

S – Use a Sequenced set of activities to develop SEL skills in a step-by-step fashion;

A – Use Active forms of learning that provide students with opportunities to practice SE skills;

F – Focus attention on SEL, with sessions devoted to SE skill development;

E – Explicitly target particular SE skills for development, with skills identified in lessons’ learning objectives.