ESSA specifies that Local Education Agencies that receive $30,000 in Student Support and Academic Enrichment Grants (SSAE) must direct portions of that money toward three priorities: – Well-rounded educational opportunities (20% of the budget) – Safe and supportive practices (20% of the budget) – Effective use of technology (at least some portion of the budget) This is good news for social and emotional learning (SEL) for two reasons. 1. The SSAE program gives districts greater flexibility in how budget dollars are spent. 2. SEL supports all three of the requirements listed above. Read on to learn more about how SEL helps meet requirements for obtaining Title IV funds.
Safe and Supportive Learning Research shows that schools are typically safer when SEL initiatives are in place. SEL can help students demonstrate positive behaviors and interact with peers and educators in positive ways. Strong social and emotional skills also contribute to decreased behavior incidents such as violence and bullying, and risky behaviors such as substance abuse. Additionally, research shows that healthy teacher-student relationships are critical to creating effective learning environments. When students feel they can trust in and are supported by their teachers, they are more likely to engage, succeed, and demonstrate positive behavior in school.
Well-Rounded Education To be successful in today’s society, students need social and emotional skills that will help them creatively solve problems, analyze situations, communicate with and respect others, and evaluate and reflect. Embedding SEL into core instruction makes learning more meaningful for students and engages them in the learning process. One example of a highly effective, researched-based SEL program that facilitates a well-rounded education is Aperture Education’s DESSA Comprehensive System Aperture Ed’s tools help students develop the critical SEL competencies needed to achieve success in school as well as post-secondary environments and the workplace. The Evo SEL system enables schools to gain insight into students’ social and emotional needs. Robust reporting helps educators provide targeted SEL curricula based on assessment findings. From lessons on cultivating critical problem-solving skills to activities that strengthen decision-making, the Evo SEL intervention strategies span different instructional settings and grade levels. Social and emotional interventions can also be administered universally, in small groups, individually, or at home.
Effective Use of Technology Technology helps educators conduct a variety of SEL assessments quickly and easily. Critical data can be gleaned from SEL baseline, formative, and benchmark assessments. This data can guide instruction and help educators create tailored interventions customized to students’ specific needs. One research-based and validated assessment is Aperture Education’s DESSA. This measure provides an in-depth assessment of students’ social and emotional needs and can be used as a summative assessment to measure student gains as well. The DESSA-mini is a shorter version of the DESSA and provides quick and easy benchmark reporting to help educators make informed decisions about ongoing student needs. The new ESSA guidelines give districts much greater flexibility in directing dollars toward SEL programming. Additionally, SEL supports the three requirements set forth by SSAE for Title IV funds.
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