Center for American Progress

RELEASE: New CAP Report: Harnessing the Power of Social and Emotional Learning Under ESSA
Press Release

RELEASE: New CAP Report: Harnessing the Power of Social and Emotional Learning Under ESSA

Washington, D.C. — Research now confirms what is often intuitive among parents and educators: How a student interacts with their peers, approaches their schoolwork, and forms beliefs about learning has profound implications for how they perform in the classroom. What’s more, schools can play a critical role in shaping these beliefs and skills. In fact, research shows that schools play a sizable role in developing students’ beliefs about their intellectual capacity, their sense of belonging in school and the world, their eagerness to learn in the face of adversity, and their strategies for academic and lifelong success.

A new report from the Center for American Progress details how policymakers can leverage provisions in the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA) for the advancement of social-emotional competencies, learning mindsets, and learning skills.

ESSA provides state and district leaders new opportunities to cultivate positive student mindsets, skills, and habits. But what opportunities lie in ESSA exactly? And how can state, district, and school leaders usher in this new era of student learning, harnessing the power of social and emotional competencies?

“Research now confirms what for many is commonsense: Students gain more when they think about their approach to thinking. Despite Education Secretary DeVos’ apparent hostility to well-established research on learning mindsets, there is still ample opportunity under the law to implement these reforms in state and local districts to provide a positive influence on students’ sense of belonging, purpose, and ability to learn,” said Ulrich Boser, senior fellow at the Center for American Progress.

CAP partnered with the National Network of State Teachers of the Year (NNSTOY) in releasing the report at an event last week.

“NNSTOY is proud to release the findings of our study into the efficacy of using measures of social and emotional learning in consequential educator evaluation. Recognizing the importance of teaching social and emotional skills to our teachers, and teachers to their students, cannot be overemphasized. We encourage states and districts to seek ways to help their teachers acquire the training needed to effectively implement these skills in the classroom. ESSA, as proposed, offers pathways to provide these trainings, and NNSTOY supports maintaining this funding,” said Katherine Basset, President and CEO of NNSTOY.

The Trump administration has not demonstrated a serious commitment to learning mindsets and skills. In fact, the new pathway provided by ESSA for states, districts, and schools to focus on learning mindsets could be undercut by the Trump administration’s proposed budget for the 2018 fiscal year.

Trump’s FY 2018 budget would slash many federal funding streams that could advance learning mindsets and skills, and the administration has proposed zeroing out programs such as 21st Century Community Learning Centers; reducing funding for Title IV, Part A Student Support and Academic Enrichment Grants; and eliminating funding for Title II, Part A.

Read “Learning Mindsets and Skills” by Ulrich Boser and Perpetual Balfour.

For more information or to speak with an expert, please contact Devon Kearns at 202.741.6290 or