The process below will guide you through creating a districtwide vision, developing aligned SEL goals, conducting a needs and resource assessment, and drafting implementation and evaluation plans. Use the Rubric to assess your current level of implementation.
Strategically planning for full-scale implementation of districtwide SEL is driven by a collaborative process of continuous improvement that asks your team to reflect on the following questions:
You can download the Districtwide Action Planning Workbook to guide you through these steps for establishing a vision and plan for SEL.
Many districts have an existing vision that can be refined to create clearer language around social and emotional learning. If you have an existing vision, determine whether you’ll update that visi…More
Many districts have an existing vision that can be refined to create clearer language around social and emotional learning. If you have an existing vision, determine whether you’ll update that vision to reflect SEL, or whether you’ll develop a new vision specifically to guide SEL implementation. Consider:
If you answered no to any of the questions above, or if your district does not have an existing vision, you can use the Vision Planning Worksheet as a guide for developing a robust vision with input from key stakeholders.
Use your responses to update your vision to reflect SEL as a core part of your district’s work. You may also want to review examples of how SEL is woven into other districts’ visions and strategic plans:
Look for ways to share the new or updated vision with key audiences. Ideally, the superintendent/CEO, the board of education, and members of the district’s leadership team will spearhead communicat…More
Look for ways to share the new or updated vision with key audiences. Ideally, the superintendent/CEO, the board of education, and members of the district’s leadership team will spearhead communication of the district’s vision for SEL to multiple stakeholder groups. If possible, have a senior leader record a short video to announce the SEL vision to all district staff. (See more information in Key Activity: Communication).
For example, include the vision in:
When sharing a focus on social and emotional learning, you may also want to explain that an SEL plan is coming soon. You’ll also want to create and share a plan for reviewing your vision at least every other year to ensure it continues to reflect your districts’ values for students’ social, emotional, and academic development, and to revise the vision as needed
As you begin to use the vision to develop goals and a plan for SEL implementation, you’ll want to assemble a strong, enthusiastic team to lead the process. If you have not already established a ful…More
As you begin to use the vision to develop goals and a plan for SEL implementation, you’ll want to assemble a strong, enthusiastic team to lead the process. If you have not already established a full-time SEL lead and team (See Key Activity: Aligned Resources), you’ll want to create an SEL planning committee with members from across district roles. Here are some committee members you may want to include:
Alternately, consider leveraging any existing SEL-related committees, such as an MTSS workgroup or a strategic planning committee for long-term buy-in targeted to a wide variety of stakeholders.
We recommend creating a plan for social and emotional learning as part of your district’s strategic planning process. However, if a district strategic planning process is not imminent, you can follow the process outlined below.
One of the SEL committee’s key responsibilities is to operationalize your shared vision into actions and outcomes that impact students and schools. Long-term SEL goals help you define what your dis…More
One of the SEL committee’s key responsibilities is to operationalize your shared vision into actions and outcomes that impact students and schools. Long-term SEL goals help you define what your district will accomplish in order to measure your progress toward your shared vision. These goals are clear statements describing anticipated outcomes that your district aims to demonstrate within three to five years of SEL implementation.
Systemic SEL implementation is linked to many positive outcomes for students and schools, including improvements to climate, relationships, adult social and emotional competencies, student social and emotional competencies, attendance, engagement, graduation, and academic achievements. CASEL’s Long-Term Goal-Setting tool will help you engage in the process of using your vision to define aligned and actionable goals.
Before you launch SEL implementation, it’s important to acknowledge that many districts have seen a host of initiatives come and go and that educators may be wary of another “new initiative.” Your …More
Before you launch SEL implementation, it’s important to acknowledge that many districts have seen a host of initiatives come and go and that educators may be wary of another “new initiative.” Your district is likely already engaging in many programs and initiatives that are aimed at achieving your shared vision. Rather than adding another layer of initiatives, systemic SEL means leveraging SEL to align and improve upon all of your work in order to promote student academic, social and emotional learning.
To determine what’s already working well in your district and what still needs to be done to achieve your vision, your SEL team or committee can use CASEL’s Program and Initiative Inventory and the Districtwide SEL Implementation Rubric.
The Program and Initiative Inventory will help you take stock of what schools across your district are already doing or have tried in the past to support students’ SEL. This will help you make thoughtful decisions about what related programs or initiatives to continue, modify or stop, so that SEL doesn’t become a disconnected addition to everyone’s workload. CASEL recommends taking the Program and Initiative Inventory once every two years. Depending on the size of your district, it may make sense to start with a smaller inventory and do additional rounds later to include additional sites or sources.
Here are some examples of how school districts have conducted an inventory of existing programs:
CASEL’s Districtwide SEL Implementation Rubric will help you take an overall assessment of your current level of implementation. Even if you have never implemented a formal SEL initiative, your district is likely already engaging in activities that may support systemic SEL. We recommend re-taking this rubric twice per school year (beginning and end of year) to track your implementation progress.
Once you’ve established where you want to go (your vision and long-term goals), where you’ve been (program inventory), and where you are now (rubric), you can begin to plan how you’ll get from wher…More
Once you’ve established where you want to go (your vision and long-term goals), where you’ve been (program inventory), and where you are now (rubric), you can begin to plan how you’ll get from where you are now to where you want to go.
SEL implementation is a long-term process that can often take 3-5 years to scale across a large district. In order to plan how you’ll reach your long-term goals, you’ll want to understand what progress you’ve already made and what gaps exist between where you are now and your long-term goals. You’ll want to include district staff responsible for research & evaluation to identify and analyze data that will help you answer these questions.
You can use the Long-term SEL Implementation Roadmap tool to help you set benchmarks for each of the coming years that will keep you on pace toward your long-term goals.
Your Roadmap will also help you plan how you’ll rollout SEL implementation across all schools in the district. If your district has more than a handful of schools, you’ll want to develop a phased strategy for SEL rollout. Depending on their needs and sizes, districts have chosen a variety of approaches. For example, some start with clusters of K-12 schools (high school and “feeder” middle and elementary schools), while others roll out districtwide at specific grade levels. Or, you may want to begin by building off the existing work in your district if some schools are already implementing some level of SEL programming or practices.
Together, the vision, long-term goals, and roadmap will serve as a key communication tool to help keep stakeholders informed and engaged in the districts’ plans for SEL implementation. If you haven’t already, you’ll want to provide key stakeholders the opportunity to review the roadmap alongside the vision and long-term goals, and provide feedback. Some stakeholders to include are teacher leaders, experienced principals, parent and student leaders, out-of-school time intermediaries and providers, and communications specialists. After you’ve collected this feedback, revise as needed, and finalize and communicate the vision, long-term goals, and roadmap publicly.
Here are some examples of how districts have shared their long-term roadmap:
Three-Year Strategic Plan for High Schools (Nashville)
Regardless of what strategy you use, implementation needs to get down to the school level where the students are — and where relationships are formed, the curriculum is taught, and partnerships wit…More
Regardless of what strategy you use, implementation needs to get down to the school level where the students are — and where relationships are formed, the curriculum is taught, and partnerships with families and community happen. To ensure effective rollout, you’ll need to develop a detailed action plan each year for ongoing professional learning, as well as resources and staff who can provide on-the-ground coaching and support.
It’s important to begin the action plan by setting clear goals for the school year. You can think of short-term goals as pit stops along the journey to reaching your long-term goals. Strong short-term goals will help you make strategic decisions about what actions you’ll need to take this year to lead you toward your long-term goals. Tracking your progress toward these goals will also help your team quickly adjust course if necessary. You can use CASEL’s Developing Short-Term Goals for Districtwide SEL tool.
Your plan will detail the specific action steps you’ll take to accomplish these short-term goals. CASEL’s four focus areas and sixteen key activities guide districts through the process of implementing systemic SEL, and you may want to take time to review each key activity in the District Framework to get a better understanding of field-tested and research-informed strategies.To draft your plan, you can use your district’s existing planning process and templates or CASEL’s Action Planning Template.
You’ll want to review your action plan and metrics at every SEL team meeting throughout the year to make sure you’re on track (see Focus Area 4: Practice Continuous Improvement for guidance) and course correct when needed.
As you’re developing your implementation plan, it’s critically important to ensure you have an aligned plan for evaluating whether your implementation is driving toward intended outcomes. This plan…More
As you’re developing your implementation plan, it’s critically important to ensure you have an aligned plan for evaluating whether your implementation is driving toward intended outcomes. This plan will help drive continuous improvement of SEL strategies and ensure that stakeholders understand the role that SEL plays in achieving districtwide priorities and goals.
We recommend working with your district’s research and evaluation staff, or if district capacity is limited, identifying an external evaluation partner who has expertise in measuring SEL outcomes. This plan will articulate how to measure your short- and long-term SEL goals, and provide the timeline for collecting, analyzing and reporting data. It will also help you to collect and document data that demonstrates SEL’s role in district priorities and goals.
Through your evaluation plan, you’ll want to answer these questions:
See an example of Baltimore City Public School’s SEL Evaluation framework, which was prepared by their external evaluation partner, Hanover Research.
Here are some resources to support you in finding and using measures of students’ SEL competencies, school climate, and other kinds of SEL-related assessments:
In addition to your long-term evaluation plan, you’ll want to ensure ongoing continuous improvement processes that allow you to track progress throughout all of the implementation. See Focus Area 4: Practice Continuous Improvement for additional information.
Using data from your benchmark assessments and any ongoing SEL needs and resource assessments, revise your plan, or aspects of your plan, to further refine the path to your district’s shared vision for SEL.