The Annie E. Casey Foundation has published a new report that highlights nine practical strategies designed to help school leaders, administrators, and teachers implement and sustain evidence-based social-emotional learning programs for their students.
Drawing on the experiences of seven school districts that have successfully implemented social-emotional learning programs, the report, Supporting Social-Emotional Learning With Evidence-Based Programs (46 pages, PDF), uses an implementation science framework to bundle funding and sustainability strategies into four stages: exploration, in which a school district establishes a foundation for identifying and funding evidence-based programs; installation, in which a district and schools work together to develop the resources and infrastructure needed to prepare for implementation; initial implementation, during which teachers and staff integrate new skills, practices, and procedures into their daily work; and full implementation, during which teachers and staff routinely deliver high-quality programs and the work becomes the status quo.
According to the report, districts in the exploration stage select an evidence-based program after considering cultural fit, funding, and staff resources as well as input from school community members and partners. In the next two stages, the district and schools develop an implementation infrastructure, building teams to help guide, perform, and sustain the work and establishing external partnerships as needed. The selected program is ultimately rolled out on a small scale and refined. During full implementation, the district and schools expand program delivery, sustaining the work through good data collection and by integrating social-emotional learning outcomes into core curricula, plans, and policies.
"Achieving social-emotional learning outcomes can reap benefits for students and educators," said Ilene Berman, a senior associate with AECF's Evidence-Based Practice Group. "Our strategies for effectively implementing evidence-based programs, drawn from district experience, pave a path toward program sustainability. They also have the potential to fundamentally change system practices so that schools can improve outcomes across a complex range of student development."