NewSchools Venture Fund released a new brief examining multi-year academic data and student self-reports identifying what matters most in social-emotional learning. Partnering with Transforming Education, NewSchools’ research hones in on three factors that are closely tied to improving academic outcomes, and identifies “power-pairs” within the findings that can help school leaders prioritize as they make decisions for how to support students in the coming school year. Specifically, NewSchools finds academic results comparable to double-digit improvement on nationally normed assessments when students:

  • believe their abilities and skills can grow with effort and feel physically and emotionally safe, or
  • believe their abilities and skills can grow with effort and feel their teachers expect a lot from them in terms of effort, persistence and learning.

The findings in the brief build on what is known about social-emotional learning and school culture by looking at longitudinal data and real-world examples to help educators plan effectively for a school year like no other. “There will be pressure on schools to double down on helping students ‘catch up’ as they reopen – but our research points to the need for school leaders to pay close attention to the crucial correlations between social-emotional learning and academic outcomes,” said Stacey Childress, CEO of NewSchools Venture Fund. “Kids are going through something right now that has no recent precedent. To serve them equitably, schools have to support students in ways equal to the challenge.”

The brief also highlights schools seeing the impact of a focus on culture and social-emotional development, and provides relevant guiding questions for school leaders to grapple with in their planning processes and revisions.