Research on the Partnerships for Social and Emotional Learning Initiative

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Through a six-year project called The Partnerships for Social and Emotional Learning Initiative (PSELI), The Wallace Foundation seeks to explore whether and how students will benefit if adults in schools and out-of-school time (OST) programs work together to align and improve experiences and climate to foster social and emotional learning. This work includes helping students develop skills such as empathy, teamwork, persistence, and goal-setting, and helping adults develop the competencies needed to promote this skill development among the students with whom they work.

Wallace selected six communities—Boston, Dallas, Denver, Palm Beach County, Tacoma, and Tulsa—to receive four-year implementation grants beginning in school year 2017–2018 and running through 2020–2021. The Wallace Foundation awarded the PSELI implementation grants jointly to the school district and the Out of School Time Intermediary (OSTI) organization, and each of these partners enacted intensive SEL supports in elementary schools that partnered with out-of-school time (OST) programs.

The Wallace Foundation has two goals for PSELI: for local partners to strengthen their capacity to deliver benefits to children in their communities, and for PSELI to develop new knowledge that will be useful to the field. In service of each goal, The Wallace Foundation has commissioned RAND to serve as the research partner on the initiative.

RAND is publishing seven reports about PSELI, of which the first was released in 2020 about early implementation lessons. In 2022, RAND released six case studies spotlighting specific approaches to implementing SEL and a cross-cutting report to summarize the case studies and highlight shared themes. Our future reports will examine children’s outcomes and the sustainability and adaptation of SEL in the six communities.

  • Report

    Strengthening Students' Social and Emotional Skills

    Children benefit when schools and out-of-school-time programs partner to improve social and emotional learning (SEL). Case studies from six communities illustrate approaches to implementing SEL. Shared themes include committed leaders and focusing on adult SEL before children's.

View related case studies

Goals for RAND’s Study

  • Understand how schools and OST programs can deliver high-quality SEL supports and practices and the factors that facilitate or hinder those efforts
  • Assess the effects of the initiative on child outcomes including SEL skills, achievement, and behavior
  • Assess the effects of the initiative on staff outcomes including job satisfaction and absenteeism
  • Explore how outcomes vary as a function of implementation intensity and students’ exposure to SEL practices and supports
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RAND’s Data Collection

To address the study goals, RAND is carrying out the following data collection activities:

  • Annual site observations: RAND is conducting full-day observations in both school and OST settings to document climate, culture, and SEL activity.
  • Interviews of site and system-level staff: RAND is interviewing staff at the district and OSTI and at the school and OST program levels. The questions focus on what SEL activity is planned for whom, where planned activity has occurred according to the sites, the nature of the school-OST and district-OSTI partnership, and barriers and enablers to SEL implementation.
  • Document review: RAND is reviewing documents such as professional development schedules and grantee plans, among others, to understand how PSELI is implemented.