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Social and Emotional Learning


In June 2023, the State Board of Education adopted the first Oregon Transformative Social and Emotional (TSEL), Framework and Standards that represent K-12 social and emotional learning expectations for students. Oregon’s Transformative SEL Framework is intended to enact ORS 329.045 and help build capacity for strengthening equity-focused school cultures that support student and adult wellbeing. Oregon’s vision for SEL provides intentional focus on the social and emotional elements of learning, teaching, and cultivating affirming school cultures through a transformative approach that teaches to the whole child, builds on their strengths, perspectives, and contributions, and guides the interactions and relationships between students and adults. SEL equips students with the skills needed for college, career, and life.

According to ORS 329.045: “The board shall require school districts to implement the standards and framework no later than July 1, 2024.”

Additional information and resources such as standards level guidance documents, learning progressions, will be made available in the Implementation link below. Check back, as this will be updated regularly.

Social and Emotional Learning (SEL) is at the center of how humans learn and thrive. At its core, SEL is about recognizing learning as a social and emotional process. While there are many definitions for SEL, the one most cited in the research is from the Collaborative for Academic, Social, and Emotional Learning (CASEL):

[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)

Social and 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.
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  3. 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)
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  5. 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)
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  7. ​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.​
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  9. 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.​
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Oregon's Transformative Social and Emotional (TSEL) Framework and Standards create a vision that is rooted in equity and that lives into the following definition:

“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” (CASEL, n.d.).

In order for SEL to be transformative, Oregon policies, practices, and approaches will need intentional focus on how to create equitable learning environments that support students’ personal and collective well-being. This entails more than following a curriculum or adding a program, but actually embedding SEL approaches into every content area and school interaction throughout the day.

This includes a shift in systems and a commitment to using:
  • Integrated learning opportunities that are modeled, nurtured, and practiced in every context.
  • Culturally responsive practices that affirm and honor students’ ways of being, skill development in understanding cultural differences, and honoring students’ unique strengths, perspectives, and contributions.
  • Systemic approaches that consider the role and impact of the broader society and the learning environment on students’ behavior and how this impacts the ways students view themselves.
  • Social justice approaches that provide students with opportunities to reflect upon and understand the root cause of emotions related to our biases, stereotypes, prejudices, and discrimination.
  • Student agency and voice (including non-verbal ways to communicate) become valued and necessary parts of the educational process, supporting students to take actions that challenge and change systems.
To fully actualize Transformative SEL in Oregon, there is a shift away from approaches limited to personal responsibility or student participation in a stand-alone curriculum. A Transformative SEL approach focuses on developing the skills to participate, improve, and change institutions and systems in a way that promotes equitable outcomes (Jagers et al., 2019; Westheimer & Kahne, 2004).

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In the short term, Social and 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.

  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 relationships with peers, family members, and educators, they also perform better in school.
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  4. Prepares students for their future lives and careers: Social and Emotional Learning promotes self-awareness, self-management, social awareness, relationship skills, and responsible decision-making, 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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  6. Student academic performance: Social and 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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  8. Reduced emotional distress and lower discipline rates: When students are engaged in Social and 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.​​

  9. Improves educator well-being: Focusing on adult Social and Emotional Learning supports maintaining stronger relationships with students, more effective classroom management practices, lower levels of job-related anxiety, and less burnout.
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For questions regarding the ODE Social Emotional Learning program, please email ODE SEL.

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