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Future of Children Research

Social and emotional learning, Spring 2017 Research Report

In the newest edition of the jointly-published Princeton-Brookings “Future of Children” journal, leading experts examine the possible impact of social and emotional learning (SEL) on public health, the importance of effective SEL interventions in early childhood education, the need for SEL both inside and outside the classroom, and policies to improve teacher preparation and assessment.

There is no doubt that social and emotional learning skills are a necessary component of a child’s education. However, evidence from even the most rigorous SEL studies is ambiguous, and there is a great deal of variation in what works, for whom, and under what conditions.

In “Social and Emotional Learning: A Policy Vision for the Future,” a featured policy brief released alongside the journal, Clark McKown of Rush University Medical Center gives a brief history of the social and emotional learning (SEL) project. Studies have shown that high-quality SEL programs are a wise investment; for every dollar spent on SEL programming, society reaps an average benefit of $11. Children who participate in evidence-based SEL programs are also more likely to perform better on measures of social, behavioral, and academic outcomes.

The future of many SEL programs is in jeopardy. Assessments are limited, and few possess the rigorous psychometric properties required for high-stakes accountability. For the framework to survive, McKown sets out four policy goals: set clear standards, create incentives for rigorous adoption of evidence-based SEL programs, require SEL coursework in teacher training programs, and support sustained investment in SEL research and development.

Read the full journal on the Future of Children website

You can also visit this page to watch video from the journal’s May 31 launch at Brookings, featuring remarks from Timothy Shriver, president of the Special Olympics Committee.


Past Editions of The Future of Children

Starting Early: Education from Prekindergarten to Third Grade (Vol. 26, no. 2)

Children and Climate Change (Vol. 26, no. 1)

Marriage and Child Wellbeing Revisited (Vol. 25, no. 2)

Policies to Promote Child Health (Vol. 25, no. 1)

Childhood Food Insecurity in the U.S: Trends, Causes, and Policy Options (Fall 2014 Research Report)

Helping Parents, Helping Children: Two-Generation Mechanisms (Vol. 24, no. 1)

Military Families (Vol. 23, no. 2)

Postsecondary Education (Vol. 23, no. 1)

Literacy Challenges (Vol. 22, no. 2)

Children with Disabilities (Vol. 22, no. 1)

Work and Family (Vol. 21, no. 2)

Immigrant Children (Vol. 21, no. 1)

Fragile Families (Vol. 20, no. 2)

Transition to Adulthood (Vol. 20, no. 1)

Preventing Child Maltreatment (Vol. 19, no. 2)

America’s High Schools (Vol. 19, no. 1)

Juvenile Justice (Vol. 18, no. 2)

Children and Electronic Media (Vol. 18, no. 1)

The Next Generation of Antipoverty Policies (Vol. 17, no. 2)

Excellence in the Classroom (Vol. 17, no. 1)

Opportunity in America (Vol. 16, no. 2)

Childhood Obesity (Vol. 16, no. 1)

Marriage and Child Wellbeing (Vol. 15, no. 2)

School Readiness: Closing Racial and Ethnic Gaps (Vol. 15, no. 1)

View previous journal issues

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