Process

Process

This process will support the adoption of strong SEL standards or guidelines that are comprehensive, developmentally appropriate, and culturally responsive, and include benchmarks for what all students should know and be able to do from PreK-grade 12. This includes aligning and integrating the SEL standards with academic standards and building staff capacity for using the standards. Use the Rubric to assess your current level of implementation.

Like much of the SEL implementation process, developing and implementing learning goals is a collaborative effort. You’ll want to assemble a work group to develop the standards and gather feedback and input from teachers who implement standards in the classroom. It can also be effective to adapt or adopt learning goals rather than creating your own from scratch.

1. Form an SEL standards committee or work group.

First, identify who will lead the SEL standards-writing process. Ideally your district has a designated SEL lead who can direct the process of developing SEL goals. If that’s not possible, select s…More

First, identify who will lead the SEL standards-writing process. Ideally your district has a designated SEL lead who can direct the process of developing SEL goals. If that’s not possible, select someone with a solid understanding of SEL principles who has been involved in district planning discussions, has access to district decision-makers, and has time to lead the process. This person should also be a strong communicator, organized project manager, and excellent consensus builder.

Next, actively recruit diverse stakeholders who will play key roles in successful implementation—those who will teach SEL, provide professional learning on SEL standards, or measure the impact of the SEL standards. Ideally these stakeholders will have at least a foundational level of SEL knowledge.

You may also want to:

  • Engage any stakeholders who may challenge the adoption of SEL standards or who need a clearer understanding of how you plan to use these learning goals.
  • Recruit a strong editor and writer as part of the group to ensure the resulting learning goals are clear, consistent, organized, and balanced.
  • Prioritize finding and engaging educators in your district with experience teaching and integrating SEL. (Findings from the district’s SEL resources and needs assessment can help identify such staff.)
  • Create a professional learning session to build baseline knowledge of SEL for committee members, if needed. More information about developing foundational SEL is available on the CASEL website.

To help ensure that your committee works smoothly while creating your district’s SEL standards, it’s a good idea to set some norms for their work. It is advisable to:

2. Review SEL-related frameworks, standards, and learning goals from across your district and other districts and states.

Before launching a new set of standards, it is important to review and coordinate your district’s various priorities and initiatives. Consider what else your district is already doing that impacts …More

Before launching a new set of standards, it is important to review and coordinate your district’s various priorities and initiatives. Consider what else your district is already doing that impacts how students and teachers will engage with SEL standards:

Next, determine whether your state has SEL standards by reviewing CASEL’s State Scan Scorecard Project. If your state has SEL standards, review those standards for alignment to your district’s vision of SEL.

If your state hasn’t established or communicated learning goals for SEL, you can review standards from other states and districts. See CASEL’s summary of state SEL frameworks and standards.

Here are standards from some of the districts in CASEL’s Collaborating Districts Initiative:

For greater context and detail about the district process for developing and using SEL standards, you can take a closer look in these four case studies:

  • Anchorage aligned SEL standards with district academic curricula and strengthened implementation through visibility, modeling, and debriefing.
  • Austin has crosswalked SEL standards with multiple curriculum standards and uses them to guide the design of classroom instruction, professional learning, curriculum adoption, and assessments.
  • Oakland developed standards over the course of a year with a group of teachers, central office administrators and staff, youth, and community members.
  • Washoe County convened key stakeholders to draft standards during a two-day retreat.

 

3. Adapt or draft standards based on your district’s vision and needs.

Based on your review and reflection, determine whether you will choose to adopt existing state standards, adapt standards used in other areas, or create new SEL standards. Decide which approach wil…More

Based on your review and reflection, determine whether you will choose to adopt existing state standards, adapt standards used in other areas, or create new SEL standards. Decide which approach will best meet the needs of your district, align to other priorities, and reflect your district’s overall vision for SEL.

If you do not have a compelling reason to draft completely new standards, it can be helpful (and even recommended) to adapt or adopt existing standards either from your state, other states, or other districts that have already implemented standards. If you choose to write your own SEL standards, see A Process for Developing and Articulating Learning Goals or Competencies for Social and Emotional Learning.

See how the Washoe County School District facilitated a workgroup to adapt SEL standards to their district in Case Study: Washoe County School District SEL Standards Development Process

Regardless of whether you choose to adapt existing goals and standards or create your own standards, ensure that your SEL goals:

  • Are aligned with CASEL’s five core competencies
  • Are simple, clear, and concise statements about what students should know and be able to do in each of the five SEL core competencies.
  • Include developmental benchmarks that are age-appropriate at each grade level or across grade groups (i.e., PreK-2, 3-5, 6-8, 9-10, and 11-12) and that demonstrate progression by building on the prior years’ standards.
  • Are culturally and linguistically relevant for all the students your district serves.
  • Align effectively with existing state or district standards.
  • Are aligned with any evidence-based SEL programs your district is already implementing.

4. Align drafted SEL standards with your district’s academic standards and any instructional practice priorities (e.g., problem-based or project-based learning, cooperative learning).

This alignment ensures that your learning goals connect to current practices and priorities in your district, and can also help you:

  • Outline how SEL standards integrate with ongoing ac…More

This alignment ensures that your learning goals connect to current practices and priorities in your district, and can also help you:

  • Outline how SEL standards integrate with ongoing academic instruction and support academic skill priorities.
  • Address potential concerns among stakeholders and implementers that SEL is “something new” or will require “extra work.”
  • Continue to communicate that developing SEL is not a “program” but a set of systemic educational practices.

You may also want to consider reviewing documents or programs in your district that already imply some expectations for students’ SEL competencies. These could include report cards or progress reports with “behavior” or “civics” indicators, graduation profiles, PBIS or related behavioral expectations, or behavioral codes of conduct.

Connect the learning goals to any evidence-based practices or civics, character, or behavioral education programming currently used in your district. Determine if these are aligned with your chosen standards or if they may need to be changed.

For more information on integrating SEL with academics, district priorities, and policies, see Key Activity: Integration.

5. Circulate your draft of SEL standards throughout the district and gather feedback.

Consult your communication plan to identify stakeholders to contact about your learning goals for students related to SEL. Consider engaging key influencers in your community who also serve the dis…More

Consult your communication plan to identify stakeholders to contact about your learning goals for students related to SEL. Consider engaging key influencers in your community who also serve the district’s students, such as out-of-school time staff, clergy, doctors, libraries, and parks/recreation staff.

Along with the drafted standards and benchmarks, be sure to share:

  • How SEL learning standards support district goals and priorities, and why the district wants and needs SEL learning standards. Emphasize that they intended to help create consistently and intentionality around SEL rather than measurements for accountability or assessment.
  • Why SEL learning goals matter for student achievement.
  • Alignment with academic or other standards, practices, or key curricula.
  • Anticipated professional learning opportunities that will be available after adoption.
  • What additional implementation steps may follow to support the achievement of the SEL learning goals.

Strive for face-to-face communication through meetings and professional learning sessions, especially if SEL is a newer concept in your district. If this isn’t possible, use videos, webinars, newsletters, or any existing curriculum management system to help personalize the contact. Solicit feedback and questions from:

  • Teachers and school leaders. You may want to facilitate focus groups that encourage teachers and school leaders to explore the standards deeply and offer feedback on how these will standards will impact teaching and learning.
  • Families. Engage families in discussing whether the standards reflect their diverse cultures, backgrounds, and the goals that they have for their children. Also use their input to ensure standards are written in language that is engaging and meaningful. Consider whether standards should be translated into the primary home languages represented in your district.
  • Students. You may want to elicit feedback through student focus groups or student leadership groups. It’s important to gather diverse student perspectives, including students who are not traditionally engaged in leadership roles. Engage students in discussing whether the standards reflect their personal goals, their identities, and what they believe to be important. Also ensure the goals are written in language that is engaging and meaningful to students.
  • Community partners. Identify how the standards align to work that community partners are engaged in and ways to create common language between school hours and out-of-school time.

Revise the goals as needed to incorporate stakeholder feedback.

6. Pilot the SEL standards before finalizing and formally adopting them districtwide.

We recommend that your district recruit teachers in different academic subjects and across grade levels to pilot or field test the SEL standards. Special education and ELL classrooms should also be…More

We recommend that your district recruit teachers in different academic subjects and across grade levels to pilot or field test the SEL standards. Special education and ELL classrooms should also be included.

During the pilot, ask teachers to incorporate the SEL standards in their lessons plans. Help them prepare to create these lesson plans by reviewing how to build instructional practices to support SEL and share these resources. See Key Activity: Integration

After the pilot, ask teachers to assess the results of their lesson plans. Which current lessons and teaching practices fit well with the standards? Which standards or subjects don’t fit as well and why? Consider any changes to the standards that might be needed as a result of feedback from piloting teachers, and then finalize the standards.

7. Formally adopt the standards as district policy.

Request that your board of education or other governing bodies formally adopt the SEL standards.

Prepare a policy statement and complete your district’s policy adoption or school board appro…More

Request that your board of education or other governing bodies formally adopt the SEL standards.

Prepare a policy statement and complete your district’s policy adoption or school board approval process. See an example of a policy from Oakland United School District.

8. Plan how your district will implement the new standards.

Depending on the size of your district and your resources, you may choose either to roll out the release in a small set of diverse classrooms or adopt broad implementation.

  • If your dis…More

Depending on the size of your district and your resources, you may choose either to roll out the release in a small set of diverse classrooms or adopt broad implementation.

  • If your district is still developing an implementation plan for SEL, you may want to roll out the standards in a small but diverse set of classrooms to inform your implementation process.
  • If your district will use evidence-based practice(s) and currently adopted instructional strategies and you have resources available, you may not need to pilot the standards to determine how to handle broad implementation. Even in this case, you may choose gradual implementation involving certain sets of schools, grade levels, or geographic areas each semester or year until the entire district is using the SEL standards.

9. Introduce your district’s SEL learning goals to stakeholders and implementers and make the standards available for use.

Even if you decide to pilot implementation before a full-scale release, be sure to notify all stakeholders in advance to give them a chance to ask questions and make recommendations.

Be sure…More

Even if you decide to pilot implementation before a full-scale release, be sure to notify all stakeholders in advance to give them a chance to ask questions and make recommendations.

Be sure to communicate with:

  • Principals
  • Teachers
  • Parents
  • Students
  • Union leaders
  • Department heads
  • School board members

Here are some topics you should consider communicating about:

  • How the standards were developed and how feedback was gathered and incorporated.
  • How staff will be supported in implementing the standards (e.g., upcoming professional learning opportunities, webinars, curriculum adoption, etc.). If this is still under development, let staff know where to direct their questions or suggestions as the plan develops.
  • Expectations, including a timeline for use of the SEL standards by principals, teachers, and other relevant stakeholder groups.

Offer teachers the opportunity to develop SEL-integrated lesson plans or compare the SEL standards with existing curricula.

You’ll also want to integrate SEL standards into your district’s learning standards materials, especially in web portals and any curricular management system(s).

More specific guidance on how to implement SEL standards can be found in Key Activity: Evidence-Based Programs and Key Activity: Integration.

Here is an example of ways to communicate about SEL standards:

10. Review and revise SEL standards periodically.

After at least one semester of implementation, assess awareness and use of the SEL standards. Here are some ways to assess awareness:

  • Use various methods (e.g., surveys, standards meet…More

After at least one semester of implementation, assess awareness and use of the SEL standards. Here are some ways to assess awareness:

  • Use various methods (e.g., surveys, standards meetings, etc.) to gauge awareness and monitor the degree to which the standards are integrated into the planning and delivery of classroom instruction.
  • Consider organizing an SEL Learning Walk to identify the application of standards in piloting classrooms.  Here is an example protocol and observation tool from Anchorage Public Schools.

Revisit your district’s SEL standards a few years after the initial adoption and plan time for revisions as needed. When revisiting standards:

  • Gather feedback from teachers on the existing standards with questions such as:
    • Are the standards clear?
    • Are the standards effective?
    • What would you add to, change in, or remove from the standards and why?
    • What additional tools or training, if any, do you need to support implementation? (If possible, use focus groups for optimal feedback or surveys if focus groups are not an option.)
  • Modify your district’s SEL standards as needed to improve clarity, alignment to academic standards, curricula, and key district strategies.
  • Amend the district’s policy if needed and communicate the modifications broadly.
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