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REL Midwest Ask A REL Response

May 2019

Question:

What research is available on school-based practices or programs addressing social and emotional learning, positive behavioral interventions and supports, and mental health in grades K–12?



Response:

Following an established Regional Educational Laboratory (REL) Midwest protocol, we conducted a search for research reports and descriptive studies on school-based practices or programs addressing social and emotional learning, positive behavioral interventions and supports, and mental health in grades K–12. For details on the databases and sources, keywords, and selection criteria used to create this response, please see the Methods section at the end of this memo.

Below, we share a sampling of the publicly accessible resources on this topic. References are listed in alphabetical order, not necessarily in order of relevance. The search conducted is not comprehensive; other relevant references and resources may exist. For each reference, we provide an abstract, excerpt, or summary written by the study’s author or publisher. We have not evaluated the quality of these references, but provide them for your information only.

Research References

Annie E. Casey Foundation. (2018). Supporting social-emotional learning with evidence-based programs. Baltimore, MD: Author. Retrieved from https://eric.ed.gov/?id=ED585944

From the ERIC abstract: “This brief provides education administrators and partners (providers, intermediaries, funders) with strategies and examples from seven school districts nationwide that have successfully funded, implemented, and sustained evidence-based social and emotional learning (SEL) programs. School administrators from these districts were interviewed and shared background information on their efforts to fund and implement evidence-based programs that address SEL. Based on these real-world experiences, seven chapters present: (1) Introduction; (2) What are Evidence-Based Programs and Why Focus on Funding Them; (3) What Kinds of Evidence-Based Social and Emotional Learning Programs are Most Relevant to the Education Field?; (4) Understanding the Costs of Evidence-Based Programs; (5) Funding and Policy Landscape for Evidence-Based SEL Programs; (6) Strategies for Funding and Sustaining Evidence-Based SEL Programs; and (7) Conclusion.”

Bradshaw, C. P., Koth, C. W., Bevans, K. B., Ialongo, N., & Leaf, P. J. (2008). The impact of school-wide positive behavioral interventions and supports (PBIS) on the organizational health of elementary schools. School Psychology Quarterly, 23(4), 462–473. Retrieved from https://eric.ed.gov/?id=EJ823885

From the ERIC abstract: “Positive Behavioral Interventions and Supports (PBIS) is a universal, school-wide prevention strategy that is currently implemented in over 7,500 schools across the nation to reduce disruptive behavior problems through the application of behavioral, social learning, and organizational behavioral principles. PBIS aims to alter school environments by creating improved systems and procedures that promote positive change in student behavior by targeting staff behaviors. The present study examined the impact of PBIS on school organizational health using data from a large randomized controlled trial of PBIS conducted in 37 elementary schools. Longitudinal multilevel analyses on data from 2,507 staff revealed a significant effect of PBIS on staff reports of the schools’ overall organizational health, resource influence, and staff affiliation over a 3-year period. This study indicated that changes in school organizational health are important consequences of the PBIS whole-school prevention model, and might in turn be a potential mediator of the effect of PBIS on student performance.”

Note: REL Midwest was unable to locate a link to the full-text version of this resource. Although REL Midwest tries to provide publicly available resources whenever possible, it was determined that this resource may be of interest to you. It may be found through university or public library systems.

Collaborative for Academic, Social, and Emotional Learning. (2012). 2013 CASEL guide: Effective social and emotional learning programs—Preschool and elementary school edition. Chicago, IL: Author. Retrieved from https://eric.ed.gov/?id=ED581699

From the ERIC abstract: “Social and emotional learning (SEL) involves the processes through which children and adults acquire and effectively apply the knowledge, attitudes, and skills necessary to understand and manage emotions, set and achieve positive goals, feel and show empathy for others, establish and maintain positive relationships, and make responsible decisions. Effective SEL programming begins in preschool and continues through high school. The Collaborative for Academic, Social, and Emotional Learning (CASEL) strives to advance SEL science, evidence-based practice, and policy. In an ideal world, CASEL would see every school in the nation providing evidence-based SEL programming to all students in preschool through high school. This guide provides a systematic framework for evaluating the quality of classroom-based SEL programs. It uses this framework to rate and identify well-designed, evidence-based SEL programs with potential for broad dissemination to schools across the United States. The primary goal of the Guide is to give educators information for selecting and implementing SEL programs in their districts and schools. It also documents the significant advances the SEL field has made in the past decade, establishes new and more rigorous standards for SEL program adoption, and provides suggestions for next steps for SEL research and practice.”

Collaborative for Academic, Social, and Emotional Learning. (2015). 2015 CASEL guide: Effective social and emotional learning programs—Middle and high school edition. Chicago, IL: Author. Retrieved from https://casel.org/middle-and-high-school-edition-casel-guide/

From the abstract: “The CASEL Guide provides a systematic framework for evaluating the quality of social and emotional programs and applies this framework to identify and rate well-designed, evidence-based SEL programs with potential for broad dissemination to schools across the United States. The Guide also shares best-practice guidelines for district and school teams on how to select and implement SEL programs. Finally, it offers recommendations for future priorities to advance SEL research and practice.”

Cook, C. R., Frye, M., Slemrod, T., Lyon, A. R., Renshaw, T. L., & Zhang, Y. (2015). An integrated approach to universal prevention: Independent and combined effects of PBIS and SEL on youths’ mental health. School Psychology Quarterly, 30(2), 166–183. Retrieved from https://eric.ed.gov/?id=EJ1167964. Full text available from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4446139/

From the ERIC abstract: “Mental health among children and adolescents is a growing national concern and schools have taken center stage in efforts to prevent problems and promote wellness. Although research and policymakers support the integration of mental health services into the schools, there is limited agreement on the ways to package or combine existing supports to achieve prevention-oriented goals. Positive Behavioral Interventions and Supports (PBIS) and Social Emotional Learning (SEL) are 2 of the most widely adopted, evidence-based approaches that have been advocated to address student mental health. These universal prevention approaches, however, stem from different theoretical camps and are often advocated and implemented apart from one another. The purpose of this study was to examine the independent and combined effects of PBIS and SEL on student mental health outcomes. A quasi-randomized control design at the classroom level was used to make comparisons across 4 conditions: business-as-usual (BAU), PBIS alone, SEL alone, and COMBO condition with regard to their acceptability to teachers, integrity of program delivery, and student outcomes. As predicted, the COMBO condition produced significantly greater improvements in overall mental health and reductions in externalizing behaviors when compared to all other conditions. The results also indicated that the PBIS- and SEL-only conditions were both able to produce significant improvements in overall mental health functioning as compared with the BAU control. The implications of an integrated approach for school-based universal prevention and directions for future research are discussed.”

Durlak, J. A., Weissberg, R. P., Dymnicki, A. B., Taylor, R. D., & Schellinger, K. B. (2011). The impact of enhancing students’ social and emotional learning: A meta-analysis of school-based universal interventions. Child Development, 82(1), 405–432. Retrieved from https://eric.ed.gov/?id=EJ927868

From the ERIC abstract: “This article presents findings from a meta-analysis of 213 school-based, universal social and emotional learning (SEL) programs involving 270,034 kindergarten through high school students. Compared to controls, SEL participants demonstrated significantly improved social and emotional skills, attitudes, behavior, and academic performance that reflected an 11-percentile-point gain in achievement. School teaching staff successfully conducted SEL programs. The use of 4 recommended practices for developing skills and the presence of implementation problems moderated program outcomes. The findings add to the growing empirical evidence regarding the positive impact of SEL programs. Policy makers, educators, and the public can contribute to healthy development of children by supporting the incorporation of evidence-based SEL programming into standard educational practice.”

Note: REL Midwest was unable to locate a link to the full-text version of this resource. Although REL Midwest tries to provide publicly available resources whenever possible, it was determined that this resource may be of interest to you. It may be found through university or public library systems.

Epstein, M., Atkins, M., Cullinan, D., Kutash, K., & Weaver, R. (2008). Reducing behavior problems in the elementary school classroom: A practice guide (NCEE 2008-012). Washington, DC: U.S. Department of Education, Institute of Education Sciences, National Center for Education Evaluation and Regional Assistance. Retrieved from https://ies.ed.gov/ncee/wwc/Docs/PracticeGuide/behavior_pg_092308.pdf [1.34 MB PDF icon ]

Flannery, K. B., Fenning, P., Kato, M. M., & McIntosh, K. (2014). Effects of School-Wide Positive Behavioral Interventions and Supports and fidelity of implementation on problem behavior in high schools. School Psychology Quarterly, 29(2), 111–124. Retrieved from https://eric.ed.gov/?id=EJ1055788

From the ERIC abstract: “High school is an important time in the educational career of students. It is also a time when adolescents face many behavioral, academic, and social-emotional challenges. Current statistics about the behavioral, academic, and social-emotional challenges faced by adolescents, and the impact on society through incarceration and dropout, have prompted high schools to direct their attention toward keeping students engaged and reducing high-risk behavioral challenges. The purpose of the study was to examine the effects of School-Wide Positive Behavioral Interventions and Supports (SW-PBIS) on the levels of individual student problem behaviors during a 3-year effectiveness trial without random assignment to condition. Participants were 36,653 students in 12 high schools. Eight schools implemented SW-PBIS, and four schools served as comparison schools. Results of a multilevel latent growth model showed statistically significant decreases in student office discipline referrals in SW-PBIS schools, with increases in comparison schools, when controlling for enrollment and percent of students receiving free or reduced price meals. In addition, as fidelity of implementation increased, office discipline referrals significantly decreased. Results are discussed in terms of effectiveness of a SW-PBIS approach in high schools and considerations to enhance fidelity of implementation.”

Note: REL Midwest was unable to locate a link to the full-text version of this resource. Although REL Midwest tries to provide publicly available resources whenever possible, it was determined that this resource may be of interest to you. It may be found through university or public library systems.

Gage, N. A., Sugai, G., & Lewis, T. J. (2013). Academic achievement and school-wide positive behavior supports. Paper presented at the Society for Research on Educational Effectiveness Conference, Washington, DC. Retrieved from https://eric.ed.gov/?id=ED563071

From the ERIC abstract: “Turning around chronically low-performing schools requires a multifaceted school-wide, systematic effort that includes strong leadership and data-based decision making. School-wide efforts to turn-around low-performing schools should address the academic, social, and behavioral needs of all students. One evidence-based, systematic school-wide approach for addressing social and behavioral concerns in schools and, distally, increasing students’ access to academic instruction, is school-wide positive behavior interventions and supports (SWPBIS). SWPBIS is associated with increased positive school climate, increased teacher self-efficacy, decreased problem behaviors for the whole school, and potentially, increased academic achievement. The underlying assumption is that by improving social behavior, schools have more time and ability to deliver effective curriculum and instruction. However, to-date, this assumption has not been fully investigated. The goal of this paper is to explicitly examine the impact of SWPBIS on school-wide academic achievement. A review of the SWPBIS literature was conducted to determine the impact of SWPBIS on academic achievement. Then, a longitudinal state-level analysis of schools implementing SWPBIS and propensity score matched control schools was conducted to identify differential effects. The following questions guided this research: (1) Are there significant differences between schools implementing SWPBIS with fidelity and schools not implementing with fidelity in mean school-level achievement?; and (2) Are there significant differences in mean school-level academic achievement SWPBIS schools and matched controlled schools? This study included all schools in the state of Connecticut, and used a quasi-experimental design with schools as the unit of analysis. Control schools were identified from the Connecticut population of public schools using propensity score matching. Data was collected from the Connecticut State Department of Education and the U.S. Department of Education’s Common Core of Data. Based on the literature review, no school-level differences between schools implementing SWPBIS with or without fidelity and control schools were found for academic achievement, including reading and math. The results of the state-level longitudinal study confirm these findings. The results of this study suggest that SWPBIS alone does not affect school-level academic achievement as measured by summative state high stakes tests.”

Grant, S., Hamilton, L. S., Wrabel, S. L., Gomez, C. J., Whitaker, A., Leschitz, J. T., ... & Ramos, A. (2017). Social and emotional learning interventions under the Every Student Succeeds Act: Evidence review (RR-2133-WF). Santa Monica, CA: RAND Corporation. Retrieved from https://eric.ed.gov/?id=ED581645

From the ERIC abstract: “The reauthorization of the U.S. Elementary and Secondary Education Act, referred to as the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA), emphasizes evidence-based interventions while giving states and districts new flexibility on the use of federal funds, including funds that could be used to support social and emotional learning (SEL). The authors review recent evidence on U.S.-based SEL interventions for K-12 students to better inform the use of SEL interventions under ESSA. This report discusses the opportunities for supporting SEL under ESSA, the standards of evidence under ESSA, and SEL interventions that meet the standards of evidence and might be eligible for federal funds through ESSA. Federal, state, and district education policymakers can use this report to identify relevant, evidence-based SEL interventions that meet their local needs. A companion volume catalogues these interventions in more detail and outlines the research that has examined them. Key findings in this report include: (1) ESSA supports SEL through several different funding streams; (2) Numerous SEL interventions across grade levels meet ESSA evidence requirements; (3) Educators in elementary schools and urban communities have the most options of SEL interventions that meet ESSA evidence requirements; and (4) Interpersonal competencies are the most common outcomes positively impacted in studies of evidence-based interventions.”

Madigan, K., Cross, R. W., Smolkowski, K., & Strycker, L. A. (2016). Association between schoolwide positive behavioural interventions and supports and academic achievement: A 9-year evaluation. Educational Research and Evaluation, 22(7–8), 402–421. Retrieved from https://eric.ed.gov/?id=EJ1123547

From the ERIC abstract: “This study evaluated the long-term impact of schoolwide positive behavioural interventions and supports (PBIS) on student academic achievement. In this quasi-experimental study, academic achievement data were collected over 9 years. The 21 elementary, middle, and high schools that achieved moderate to high fidelity to the Save & Civil Schools’ PBIS model were matched with 28 control schools to assess academic gains. There were 5 years of baseline data (no intervention in treatment schools) and 4 years of intervention data, including 1 year of maintenance. Results indicate that implementation of the PBIS programme was significantly associated with increased student academic achievement (p = 0.001) and that the rate of change for students’ academic achievement in treatment schools was greater than for students in control schools. This study suggests that PBIS programmes, such as Safe & Civil Schools’ ‘Foundations,’ may complement other efforts to improve academic outcomes.”

Mahoney, J. L., Durlak, J. A., & Weissberg, R. P. (2018). An update on social and emotional learning outcome research. Phi Delta Kappan, 100(4), 18–23. Retrieved from https://eric.ed.gov/?id=EJ1197867

From the ERIC abstract: “Joseph Mahoney, Joseph Durlak, and Roger Weissberg compare results from four large-scale meta-analyses of student outcomes related to participation in universal, school-based social and emotional learning (SEL) programs. Their examination includes 356 research reports with rigorous designs and outcome data at post or follow-up from hundreds of thousands of K-12 students within and outside the U.S. on a range of SEL programs. The reviews indicate that universal school-based SEL programs produce positive benefits for participating students on a range of important behavioral and academic outcomes that are evident immediately following the end of intervention and that persist during various follow-up periods. Therefore, current data indicate that SEL programs are both feasible and effective in a variety of educational contexts in many countries around the world.”

Note: REL Midwest was unable to locate a link to the full-text version of this resource. Although REL Midwest tries to provide publicly available resources whenever possible, it was determined that this resource may be of interest to you. It may be found through university or public library systems.

O’Conner, R., De Feyter, J., Carr, A., Luo, J. L., & Romm, H. (2017). A review of the literature on social and emotional learning for students ages 3-8: Characteristics of effective social and emotional learning programs (Part 1 of 4) (REL 2017-245). Washington, DC: U.S. Department of Education, Institute of Education Sciences, National Center for Education Evaluation and Regional Assistance, Regional Educational Laboratory Mid-Atlantic. Retrieved from https://eric.ed.gov/?id=ED572721

From the ERIC abstract: “Social and emotional learning (SEL) is the process by which children and adults learn to understand and manage emotions, maintain positive relationships, and make responsible decisions. This is the first in a series of four related reports about what is known about SEL programs for students ages 3-8. The report series addresses four issues raised by the Regional Educational Laboratory (REL) Mid-Atlantic’s Early Childhood Education Research Alliance: characteristics of effective SEL programs (part 1), implementation strategies and state and district policies that support SEL programming (part 2), teacher and classroom strategies that contribute to social and emotional learning (part 3), and outcomes of social and emotional learning among different student populations and settings (part 4). This report identifies key components of effective SEL programs and offers guidance on selecting programs.”

Taylor, R. D., Oberle, E., Durlak, J. A., & Weissberg, R. P. (2017). Promoting positive youth development through school-based social and emotional learning interventions: A meta-analysis of follow-up effects. Child Development, 88(4), 1156–1171. Retrieved from https://eric.ed.gov/?id=EJ1147161

From the ERIC abstract: “This meta-analysis reviewed 82 school-based, universal social and emotional learning (SEL) interventions involving 97,406 kindergarten to high school students (M[subscript age] = 11.09 years; mean percent low socioeconomic status = 41.1; mean percent students of color = 45.9). Thirty-eight interventions took place outside the United States. Follow-up outcomes (collected 6 months to 18 years postintervention) demonstrate SEL’s enhancement of positive youth development. Participants fared significantly better than controls in social-emotional skills, attitudes, and indicators of well-being. Benefits were similar regardless of students’ race, socioeconomic background, or school location. Postintervention social-emotional skill development was the strongest predictor of well-being at follow-up. Infrequently assessed but notable outcomes (e.g., graduation and safe sexual behaviors) illustrate SEL’s improvement of critical aspects of students’ developmental trajectories.”

Note: REL Midwest was unable to locate a link to the full-text version of this resource. Although REL Midwest tries to provide publicly available resources whenever possible, it was determined that this resource may be of interest to you. It may be found through university or public library systems.

Yeager, D. S. (2017). Social and emotional learning programs for adolescents. The Future of Children, 27(1), 73–94. Retrieved from https://eric.ed.gov/?id=EJ1145078

From the ERIC abstract: “Adolescents may especially need social and emotional help. They are learning how to handle new demands in school and social life while dealing with new, intense emotions (both positive and negative), and they are increasingly feeling that they should do so without adult guidance. Social and emotional learning (SEL) programs are one way to help them navigate these difficulties. SEL programs try to help adolescents cope with their difficulties more successfully by improving ‘skills’ and ‘mindsets,’ and they try to create respectful school environments that young people want to be a part of by changing the school’s ‘climate.’ In this article, David Yeager defines those terms and explains the changes that adolescents experience with the onset of puberty. Then he reviews a variety of SEL programs to see what works best with this age group.”

Ziomek-Daigle, J., Goodman-Scott, E., Cavin, J., & Donohue, P. (2016). Integrating a multi-tiered system of supports with comprehensive school counseling programs. The Professional Counselor, 6(3), 220–232. Retrieved from https://eric.ed.gov/?id=EJ1115900

From the ERIC abstract: “A multi-tiered system of supports, including Response to Intervention and Positive Behavioral Interventions and Supports, is a widely utilized framework implemented in K-12 schools to address the academic and behavioral needs of all students. School counselors are leaders who facilitate comprehensive school counseling programs and demonstrate their relevance to school initiatives and centrality to the school’s mission. The purpose of this article is to discuss both a multi-tiered system of supports and comprehensive school counseling programs, demonstrating the overlap between the two frameworks. Specific similarities include: leadership team and collaboration, coordinated services, school counselor roles, data collection, evidence-based practices, equity, cultural responsiveness, advocacy, prevention, positive school climate, and systemic change. A case study is included to illustrate a school counseling department integrating a multi-tiered system of supports with their comprehensive school counseling program. In the case study, school counselors are described as interveners, facilitators and supporters regarding the implementation of a multi-tiered system of supports.”

Additional Organizations to Consult

Collaborative for Academic, Social and Emotional Learning (CASEL) – https://casel.org/our-work/

From the website: “As a thought leader, field builder, and advocate, CASEL uniquely spans three worlds: Research to build the evidence base by developing, synthesizing, and disseminating evidence that documents the impact of social and emotional learning. Practice demonstrates what is possible in classrooms, schools, and communities that prioritize SEL—including our work with partner districts. Our work focuses on implementing, refining, and demonstrating high-quality SEL in school districts, and creating scalable tools and resources (visit our SEL District Resource Center to learn more); Policy helps pave the way for SEL practices that are scalable and sustainable, setting a new standard for high-quality education in the United States. Through state and federal policy efforts, CASEL is helping create the conditions for success.”

National Technical Assistance Center on Positive Behavioral Interventions and Supports – https://www.pbis.org/about-us

From the website: “The purpose of the new Center is to improve the capacity of SEAs, LEAs, and schools to establish, scale-up, and sustain the PBIS framework to (a) scale up tier 2 and 3 systems to improve outcomes for students with or at-risk for disabilities, (b) enhance school climate and school safety, and (c) improve conditions for learning to promote the well-being of all students. The Center (a) provides the technical assistance to encourage large-scale implementation of PBIS; (b) provides the organizational models, demonstrations, dissemination, and evaluation tools needed to implement PBIS with greater depth and fidelity across an extended array of contexts; and (c) extends the lessons learned from PBIS implementation to the broader agenda of educational reform.”

Methods

Keywords and Search Strings

The following keywords and search strings were used to search the reference databases and other sources:

  • Positive behavior support in schools

  • Descriptor: “program effectiveness” PBIS

  • Descriptor: “program effectiveness” SEL

  • SEL PBIS “mental health”

  • Social emotional learning

Databases and Search Engines

We searched ERIC for relevant resources. ERIC is a free online library of more than 1.6 million citations of education research sponsored by the Institute of Education Sciences (IES). Additionally, we searched IES and Google Scholar.

Reference Search and Selection Criteria

When we were searching and reviewing resources, we considered the following criteria:

  • Date of the publication: References and resources published over the last 15 years, from 2004 to present, were included in the search and review.

  • Search priorities of reference sources: Search priority is given to study reports, briefs, and other documents that are published or reviewed by IES and other federal or federally funded organizations.

  • Methodology: We used the following methodological priorities/considerations in the review and selection of the references: (a) study types—randomized control trials, quasi-;experiments, surveys, descriptive data analyses, literature reviews, policy briefs, and so forth, generally in this order, (b) target population, samples (e.g., representativeness of the target population, sample size, volunteered or randomly selected), study duration, and so forth, and (c) limitations, generalizability of the findings and conclusions, and so forth.
This memorandum is one in a series of quick-turnaround responses to specific questions posed by educational stakeholders in the Midwest Region (Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Michigan, Minnesota, Ohio, Wisconsin), which is served by the Regional Educational Laboratory (REL Midwest) at American Institutes for Research. This memorandum was prepared by REL Midwest under a contract with the U.S. Department of Education’s Institute of Education Sciences (IES), Contract ED-IES-17-C-0007, administered by American Institutes for Research. Its content does not necessarily reflect the views or policies of IES or the U.S. Department of Education nor does mention of trade names, commercial products, or organizations imply endorsement by the U.S. Government.