For Policymakers

Social and emotional learning (SEL) is gaining significant traction in federal and state policy. SEL is increasingly a key consideration in federal grants. A growing number of states have developed and adopted SEL standards, goals, or competencies.

The State of South Carolina's Children

Growing up is tough. Growing up without the resources and the support you need is even tougher. State and national data shows our children are engaging in unhealthy behaviors and our students, our teachers, and our schools need our help. Our students are suffering. Schools are faced with discipline problems. Stress and burnout are causing teachers to leave the classroom in record numbers resulting in a critical teacher shortage.

The Problem

According to the Youth Risk Behavior Survey of S.C. high school students:

  • 25% were currently drinking alcohol; 58% had tried alcohol
  • 19% were currently using marijuana
  • 15% had taken pain pills without a doctor’s prescription
  • 18% had carried a weapon
  • 24% had been in physical fight
  • 21% had been bullied on school property
  • 19% considered suicide
  • 11% attempted suicide
  • 33% felt hopeless
  • 4,979 dropped out of school


The Solution

Proven effective SEL programs teach students compromise, conflict resolution, problem solving, setting and achieving goals, responsible decision making helps them understand and manage emotions and builds empathy to help PREVENT school discipline problems, suicide, violence, and bullying.  EVERY CHILD needs these skills to succeed in school, form healthy relationships, and eventually excel in the workplace.

213 rigorous studies of SEL in schools demonstrated that students had:

  •  Fewer negative behaviors: decreased disruptive class behavior, non-compliance, aggression, delinquent acts, and disciplinary referrals.
  • Reduced emotional distress: fewer reports of student depression, anxiety, stress, and social withdrawal.
  • Improved attitudes and behaviors: greater motivation to learn, deeper commitment to school, increased time devoted to schoolwork, and better classrooms
  • Better academic performance: achievement scores on average of 11 % higher than students who did not receive SEL instruction

The top 10 job skills identified by the World Economic Forum all involve social and emotional competence:

  • Complex problem solving
  • Critical thinking
  • Creativity
  • People management
  • Coordinating with others
  • Cognitive flexibility
  • Emotional intelligence
  • Judgment and decision-making
  • Service orientation
  • Negotiation