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Bill Would Shift Federal Money to Social and Emotional Programs

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A new bill proposes to amend federal law so that money set aside for teacher and principal training could be used specifically for social- and emotional-learning programs.

Rep. Tim Ryan, D-Ohio, on Wednesday introduced the Academic, Social, and Emotional Learning Act to allow the shift. It's contingent on the reauthorization of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act—currently No Child Left Behind, however, as my esteemed colleagues at the Politics K-12 blog have noted, those efforts are at a near standstill.

"Teaching social- and emotional-learning skills is based on the latest science and research, and schools in my congressional district are already improving because of social- and emotional-learning programs," Ryan said in a press release. "Social and emotional competencies are absolutely essential skills—the foundation for all the other skills young people need to be successful in school and in life."

My colleague Sarah D. Sparks wrote recently about the strong ties between social and emotional learning—SEL in eduspeak—and student success.

Ryan cited a 2009 report from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention that said students who feel more connected to school are more likely to have positive health and education outcomes.

He also noted a landmark meta-analysis of 213 social- and emotional-learning programs that collectively included 270,000 students. The analysis established the effectiveness of social- and emotional-learning programs. For example, students scored 11 percentage points higher on standardized achievement tests when compared to peers who weren't exposed to social and emotional lessons.

Follow Rules for Engagement on Twitter @Rulz4Engagement and Education Week Staff Writer Nirvi Shah on Twitter @NirviShah.

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