Educators Say ‘Social-Emotional Learning' Linked to Higher Test Scores

One South Bay school says reading and math scores are up with the help of nonprofit's strategies

NBC Universal, Inc.

Educators have been talking more about the rise of "social-emotional learning" post-pandemic and how it has helped students perform better on tests.

Upon the return to classrooms, many students struggled – and not just academically. Teachers say students were having trouble connecting to each other and feeling a sense of belonging at school because of the months of disconnection.

But teachers and families at San Jose’s Meadows Elementary School in the Franklin-McKinley School District found that taking the time to grow social-emotional connections helped students feel better and perform better on tests.

The school got help from a nonprofit called PowerMyLearning, which creates workshops to help educators help students develop things like interpersonal skills, self-awareness and positive behavior.

The principal says taking the time to address students' social-emotional learning boosted reading scores by 13% and math scores by 7%.

"If they’re having conflicts with other students, how do they resolve those, how do they problem solve, how do they approach challenges and defeat? Principal Magdalena Moore said. "How do we develop the growth-mindset? Of course, teaching reading and math alongside it."

PowerMyLearning says parents can support their child’s social-emotional learning at home by engaging with them the following ways:

  • Ask them to teach you how do things, which reinforces what they’ve learned.
  • When your child’s working on homework, ask them questions like what strategies they used and how they would use the work they're doing in the real world.
  • Partner with your child’s school and teachers.

"We know that students coming in from the pandemic endured a lot of trauma, so it’s helping teachers and school leaders understand the language of trauma and how to identify it," said Jill Nyhus, chief growth officer with PowerMyLearning.

According to the National Education Association, some activists have taken aim at social-emotional leaning, saying it’s indoctrination. But the NEA says research shows it has led to positive test outcomes and it has support among parents.

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