Does SEL lead to more actual learning? New study examines the long-term impact (Best Evidence in Brief)

There is a new Best Evidence in Brief and this time I picked this study from this biweekly newsletter:

Social-emotional learning (SEL), such as the ability to set goals and manage frustration, have been positively associated with academic outcomes. These findings have encouraged policymakers to implement programs that help students build up their SEL competencies.
However, the jury is still out on how well these programs impact academic outcomes. For example, Duncan and colleagues (2007) examined multiple large-scale national datasets and failed to find any significant associations between early SEL skills and math or reading skills in third grade. Furthermore, there are relatively few studies of the long-term impact of SEL interventions on students’ outcomes.
To address these two gaps in the literature, Meghan McCormick and colleagues looked into the long-term impact of the social-emotional learning (SEL) program, INSIGHTS. INSIGHTS facilitators use temperament as a lens to teach parents and teachers how to best respond to student behavior, as well as deliver empathy and problem-solving curricula to students.
Students’ baseline scores were collected in kindergarten before random assignment to the two-year INSIGHTS intervention or to the control group. The program was delivered through training sessions with teachers, parents, and students, and all schools in the study served low-income, Black and Latinx communities.
The study found that INSIGHTS students outperformed non-INSIGHTS students on English Language Arts (ELA) standardized tests in third and fourth grade. However, there were no long-term differences between INSIGHTS and non-INSIGHTS students’ math standardized test scores. These results suggest that INSIGHTS seems to have an impact on student ELA proficiency.

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