Congressman Tim Ryan Introduces the Academic, Social and Emotional Learning Act

Feb 18, 2015 Issues: Education

Washington, DC – Congressman Tim Ryan (OH-13) today was joined by Congressman Dave Loebsack (IA-02), Congresswoman Susan Davis (CA-53), Congressman Matt Cartwright (PA-17), and Congressman John Yarmuth (KY-3) in introducing the Academic, Social and Emotional Learning (SEL) Act. This legislation supports teacher training in SEL to help young people better handle societal issues thus boosting their academic potential. Students receiving an education that includes SEL programs do better on tests, show greater social behaviors, and less emotional stress. Furthermore, students are far less likely to engage in problem behavior like alcohol and drug use, violence, truancy, and bullying.

“I have seen firsthand what teaching social and emotional learning can do for students and their classrooms in Ohio and across the nation,” said Rep. Tim Ryan. “These programs are scientifically proven to help students increase skills in problem-solving, conflict resolution, responsible decision-making and relationship building – these are the skills that will build the foundation for students to better perform academically and throughout their lives. Now is the time to promote programs that create a safer and more secure school culture in America.”

“If there's one thing that unites Republicans and Democrats, it’s the belief that America is about both mind and heart--that our great national commitment to citizenship and character are as important as our commitment to competition and growth,” said Tim Shriver, Board Chair of the Collaborative for Academic, Social and Emotional Learning (CASEL). “For too long, schools have been told to separate the head from the heart--to separate the social and emotional development of children from their cognitive learning. We know that's the wrong way to teach and the wrong way to learn. This bill will help our schools get it right by using the best evidence based programs to optimize our children's chances of learning how to be as smart and as good as they can be."

“Decades of research show that well-implemented social and emotional learning (SEL) programming improves students’ behavior and academic performance,” said Roger Weissberg, Board Vice-Chair of CASEL. “Recent national polls indicate that educators and parents believe that SEL should be an educational priority. It is critical to provide quality professional development for administrators and teachers so they provide the most beneficial programming for students.”

A landmark meta-analysis of 213 SEL programs with a combined sample of more than 270,000 students clearly established the effectiveness of SEL programs across a number of areas critical to the success of students. Students scored 11 percentile points higher on standardized achievement tests, a significant improvement relative to peers not receiving SEL programming. The Academic, Social and Emotional Learning Act builds on this report and a large body of research proving that social and emotional programming has a positive impact on student learning.

According to the Center for Disease Control (CDC), students who feel more connected to school are more likely to have positive health and education outcomes and that a close relationship between the emotional welfare and health of the student can create a safer and more secure environment for learning. The CDC recommends that schools “provide students with the academic, emotional, and social skills necessary to be actively engaged in school.”

This legislation defines social and emotional learning (SEL) and amends the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA) to allow funding for teacher and principal training and professional development to be used for SEL programming.