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Social-Emotional Learning (SEL)

What is Social-Emotional Learning (SEL)?

Social emotional learning (SEL) is "an integral part of education and human development. Social emotional learning is the process through which all young people and adults acquire and apply the knowledge, skills, and attitudes to develop healthy identities, manage emotions and achieve personal and collective goals, feel and show empathy for others, establish and maintain supportive relationships, and make responsible and caring decisions.

Social emotional learning advances educational equity and excellence through authentic school-family-community partnerships to establish learning environments and experiences that feature trusting and collaborative relationships, rigorous and meaningful curriculum and instruction, and ongoing evaluation. Social emotional learning can help address various forms of inequity and empower young people and adults to co-create thriving schools and contribute to safe, healthy, and just communities." (CASEL, 2022))

As students face changes and challenges, including the upheaval, loss, and isolation that has occurred in the years since March 2020, social and emotional learning is more important than ever for students’ academic success.

What is Transformative Social Emotional Learning (TSEL)?

Transformative Social Emotional Learning asks these questions: 
  1. What knowledge and capacities do humans need to thrive individually and as a community? 
  2. What does it look like to create a culture of care, inclusion, belonging, agency, and liberation?
“Transformative Social emotional learning” is a process whereby young people and adults build strong, respectful, and lasting, relationships that facilitate co-learning to critically examine root causes of inequity, and to develop collaborative solutions that lead to personal, community, and societal well-being.

This form of social emotional learning is aimed at redistributing power to more fully engage young people and adults in working toward just and equitable schools and communities. It emphasizes the development of identity, agency, belonging, curiosity, and collaborative problem-solving within the CASEL framework.” (CASEL, 2022)

SEL Research and Resources

In the short term, Social Emotional Learning helps us know ourselves, understand the perspectives of others, and make sound personal and social decisions. In the long term, the following results are shown by research:
  1. Boost diversity, equity, and inclusion efforts: Social Emotional Learning is a dynamic process that fundamentally transforms how optimal teaching and learning happen, including how both competencies and conditions come together to advance equity. Equity in education and Social Emotional Learning are complimentary priorities that must be mutually reinforcing in Oregon’s classrooms for each to succeed. Learn more through EdTrust.
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  2. Positive social behavior: Students get along better with others with improved social interaction skills and self-knowledge. They gain greater “self-efficacy, confidence, persistence, empathy, connection and commitment to school, and a sense of purpose.” (Weissberg, 2016) When students have positive, productive relationships with peers, family members, and educators, they also perform better in school. 
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  3. Prepares students for their future lives and careers: Social Emotional Learning promotes skills like resilience, collaboration, self-regulation, self-awareness, empathy, and growth mindsets in particular—key skills expected when people enter the workforce. Students also gain a sense of purpose and belonging and learning to be civically engaged and culturally responsive. (CASEL, 2022)
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  4. Student academic performance: Social Emotional Learning is shown to raise students’ achievement scores by an average of 11 percentile points while improving attitudes towards school and increasing their performance in the classroom, including attendance and graduation rates.
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  5. Reduced emotional distress and lower discipline rates: When students are engaged in Social Emotional Learning​, students have better relationships and fewer occurrences of depression, anxiety, stress and social withdrawal. There are also less disruptions and bullying. Studies show that students have less psychological, behavioral, or substance abuse problems in the long term.​​

Social Emotional Learning Key ​Points​

  1. ​​Social Emotional Learning is not a replacement for mental health care, but mental health is one important component of Social Emotional Learning. ODE believes that mental health is centered within a continuum of care that meets each person's needs for physical and emotional safety, security, social connection, identity, diversity and purpose. Go to the Integrated Model of Mental Health.
  2. ​Co-constructing equitable learning environments means making sure power and privilege related to race are understood as part of social and emotional learning, but is not about shame or blaming anyone because of their identities. The goal is for educators to be able to “address challenges in inequities, including building on students' already-existing cognitive, social, and emotional competencies, addressing injustice and related trauma, mitigating stereotype threat in the classroom, building healthy school culture and climate, and engaging families and communities." (Aspen Institute, 2018)

  3. ​Social Emotional Learning works best when educators, students, families, and community members have “trusting and collaborative relationships, rigorous and meaningful curriculum and instruction, and ongoing evaluation." (Jagers, Skoog-Hoffman, Barthelus, and Schlund, 2021)

  4. ​Social, emotional, and academic skills are interrelated. Teachers know from experience that a child can't focus on academic skills alone because they aren't learning in a vacuum. Social Emotional Learning​ supports positive developmental and learning outcomes. When schools, families, and community partners work together to prioritize the social and emotional experiences young people have at school, we can make sure all students have rich opportunities to learn and practice important skills that help them collaborate, solve problems, and succeed in school, college, career and life.​

  5. ​Social-emotional learning must be embedded throughout the formal education spaces we are responsible for. It can't be an add-on, afterthought, or alternative. That means we build social and emotional skills into the entire learning experience both in targeted and integrated ways.​


SEL Advisory Groups

In 2021, the Oregon Legislature passed House Bill 2166, Section 4 requiring the development of social emotional standards and a framework for K-12 public school students in Oregon. ODE is approaching this bill as a multi-phase process. Phase 1 of implementation fulfills the bill requirement of ODE in consultation with the Early Learning Division and the Teacher Standards and Practices Commission (TSPC), to convene an Advisory Group (Phase 1 SEL Advisory Group) to develop an initial report describing the proposed SEL standards and framework that will be used by the State Board of Education when considering the standards and framework for adoption in September 2023. As stated in the bill, the report is to be submitted to the State Board of Education no later than September 15, 2022.


Phase 2 of implementation includes establishing a Phase 2 SEL Advisory Group charged with developing the SEL framework and standards for adoption by the State Board of Education (SBE) by September 15, 2023.  This next Advisory Group will be guided by the bill text as well as the contents of the report created by the Phase 1 SEL Advisory Group. 


School districts will be required to implement the adopted SEL Framework and Standards on July 1, 2024.


For questions regarding the ODE Social Emotional Learning program, please email ODE SEL