- The National Center for Education Statistics' 42nd annual “Condition of Education” report finds that children from impoverished backgrounds are likely to remain underserved over time in K-12 schools, with the disparity often following them through college.
- The report notes that by entering pre-K without a "positive approach" to learning, which is nurtured at home, students begin at a disadvantage and remain lagging behind.
- Interventions can help, the Huffington Post reports, as can providing more resources to the 20% of American schoolchildren who now live in poverty.
Having a positive approach to learning appears to be key, and the advance of the trend of social-emotional learning in K-12 classrooms can help. The number of teachers who believe that social-emotional learning is very important to student achievement has increased in recent years, and new studies back up the efficacy of the approach. By teaching skills like self-awareness, decision-making, and communication, students are also less likely to have discipline problems.
Neuroscientist and former teacher Dr. Mary Helen Immordino-Yang's new book, "Emotions, Learning and the Brain," makes a case for the importance of using concrete and personal experiences when teaching abstract concepts to students. According to Dr. Immordino-Yang, social-emotional learning sparks engagement. She also notes that experiments involving MRI scans have shown that engaged students have more activity in their brain's cortex and brain stem.
Social-emotional learning is a fluid area and can be hard to evaluate or quantify. Experts at the American Educational Research Association's annual conference recently announced that standards must be created if SEL is going to play a continued role in K-12 education.