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REL Pacific
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Social and Emotional Learning in the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands


This REL Pacific project is intended to provide stakeholders in the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands (CNMI) with a better understanding of which social and emotional competencies (SECs) have been linked to college and career readiness and success (CCRS). Through this collaborative project, REL Pacific is helping stakeholders in the CNMI identify methods to assess these competencies and to identify next steps and applications to their own contexts. In training and related coaching sessions, stakeholders are examining ways in which they can use evidence-based research in their current contexts to increase their students' college and career readiness and success. Participants are also planning for future work to further develop their students' SECs.

The goals of this project include:

  1. Understand and discuss the relationship between social and emotional learning (SEL) and student academic and behavioral outcomes, including indicators of college and career readiness and success.
  2. Review and discuss SEL approaches used nationally to support students' SECs.
  3. Identify which SECs are most relevant to the CNMI and consider possible strategies to measure SECs.
  4. Identify available SEC data in the CNMI, discuss current understandings of how that data is used to inform practice, and plan for additional data collection as needed.

High-Leverage Need

Recent research that has found that high school academic achievement measures alone do not fully predict early college success, and in one study accounted for only 35 percent of the variation in early college success (Davis, Stephan, Lindsay, & Park, 2016). SECs, such as student motivation, social support, and resilience, have also been found to predict college readiness—and more recently, some literature has suggested that SECs, composed of beliefs, motivations, and behaviors that are critical for academic success but that do not reflect academic content knowledge, may also act as predictors of early college success (Farrington, Roderick, Allensworth, Nagaoka, Keyes, Johnson, & Beechum, 2012; Wiley, Wyatt, & Camara, 2010). Stakeholders in the CNMI have expressed interest in understanding the ways in which SECs can be used to develop a more complete understanding of college and career readiness—particularly the competencies that predict success and which may be malleable in high school.

REL Pacific Project Support

This project examines whether SECs promoted by educators in the CNMI relate to students' college and career readiness over and above their academic achievement measures and support stakeholders in identifying ways in which they can support their students' SEL in their schools and in their classrooms. Participants hope to leverage this information to make decisions about:

  1. how attention to SEL could build on their current approaches.
  2. which practices might apply to the context of the CNMI, including which possible policy or practice changes might be prioritized given the research on SEL.


Melissa Crowder

Marisa Crowder, researcher, supports REL partnership members' efforts to promote students' college and career readiness and success by fostering social and emotional learning in schools and building transition courses that help more students attain college math credit. She received her B.A. and M.A. in Psychology from San Diego State University and her Ph.D. in Interdisciplinary Social Psychology from the University of Nevada, Reno. Contact Marisa at or call 1.808.664.8181.



Davis, E., Stephan, J. L., Lindsay, J., & Park, S. J. (2016). Stated Briefly: Who will succeed and who will struggle? Predicting early college success with Indiana's Student Information System (REL 2016–126). Washington, DC: U.S. Department of Education, Institute of Education Sciences, National Center for Education Evaluation and Regional Assistance, Regional Educational Laboratory Midwest. REL_2016126.pdf

Farrington, C. A., Roderick, M., Allensworth, E., Nagaoka, J., Keyes, T. S., Johnson, D. W., & Beechum, N. O. (2012). Teaching adolescents to become learners. The role of noncognitive factors in shaping school performance: A critical literature review. Chicago: University of Chicago Consortium on Chicago School Research.

Wiley, A., Wyatt, J., & Camara, W. (2010). The development of a multidimensional college readiness index. (College Board Research Report No. 2010–3). Bellingham, WA: Cascade Educational Consultants. fulltext/ED563050.pdf .