Early Lessons from Schools and Out-of-School Time Programs Implementing Social and Emotional Learning
This report presents findings from the first two years of the Partnerships for Social and Emotional Learning Initiative, a multiyear Wallace-supported effort exploring whether and how children can benefit from partnerships between schools and out-of-school-time (OST) programs focused on building social and emotional skills. The findings are based on a trove of data—approximately 5,000 completed surveys of school and OST staff members, 850 interviews, and observations of more than 3,000 instructional and non-instructional activities in schools and OST programs—making this the most comprehensive study of social and emotional learning (SEL) implementation to date.
As schools grow more familiar with distance learning, one key element continues to baffle even expert teachers: assigning grades in an online classroom. Many California school districts altered grading policies when schools abruptly closed last spring so that students’ grades could only improve from where they were at just before the sudden stay-at-home order. In those districts, teachers did not lower students’ grades if they were struggling academically. Other districts switched to pass/fail systems. But this school year, most schools are back to traditional A-F grading scales, creating an all-new learning curve for teachers who must now grade students from behind a computer screen.
Staff departures were a major problem in child care long before the pandemic. While firm numbers are hard to find, studies estimate annual turnover rates between 26 and 40 percent for early childhood educators in licensed facilities. The risks and burdens of COVID-19 have made it all the more difficult to both retain high-quality early childhood professionals and replace those who leave. In December 2020, the National Association for the Education of Young Children, which represents and advocates for early childhood professionals, published the results of a November survey of more than 6,000 home- and center-based child care workers. Among its findings: 69 percent of respondents said “recruiting and retaining qualified staff is more difficult now than it was before the pandemic,” citing reasons ranging from fear, anxiety, the need to protect themselves and their families, low compensation and lack of respect.
Detentions and suspensions are common practices of school discipline, despite evidence that they are largely ineffective and disproportionately affect children from racial and ethnic minority backgrounds, particularly Black children, and children of lower socioeconomic status. However, few studies have examined suspension and detention rates among race, ethnicity, and family structure (single parent versus secondary caregiver) when controlling for typical behaviors associated with detention and suspension such as externalizing symptoms, age, sex, family income, family education, family conflict, and special education needs.