RD806 - Final Report and Recommendations to Support Social Emotional Learning in Virginia Public Schools – November 1, 2021

Executive Summary:

In 2020, the Virginia General Assembly passed House Bill 753, directing the Virginia Department of Education to (i) establish a uniform definition of social emotional learning and develop guidance standards for social emotional learning for all public students in grades kindergarten through 12 in the Commonwealth; (ii) make such standards available to each local school division no later than July 1, 2021; and (iii) issue a report no later than November 1, 2021, on the resources needed to successfully support local school divisions with the implementation of a statewide social emotional learning program.

The Virginia Department of Education (VDOE) assembled an interdepartmental team to create a plan for social emotional learning (SEL) implementation in Virginia. The SEL Implementation Team identified VDOE priorities that needed to be considered in the creation of Virginia’s vision and definition of SEL. The Team worked with the Collaborative for Academic, Social and Emotional Learning (CASEL), a national technical assistance center, to bring Virginia’s unique vision of SEL to all K-12 students. The Team focused on existing VDOE initiatives that reflected this vision. In doing so, the SEL Standards are aligned with the Profile of a Virginia Graduate and existing departmental guidance and initiatives. This intentional focus allows the Standards to explicitly teach the skills needed to be “life ready" and to create more equitable learning environments.

Virginia defines social emotional learning as: The process through which all young people and adults acquire and apply the knowledge, skills, and attitudes to develop healthy identities, manage emotions and achieve personal and collective goals, feel and show empathy for others, establish and maintain supportive relationships, and make responsible and caring decisions.

The VDOE SEL Implementation Team assembled a Social Emotional Learning (SEL) Advisory Committee composed of teachers, school leaders, specialized instructional support specialists, community leaders, state agency personnel, and parents from across the Commonwealth to guide the development of the Virginia Social Emotional Learning (SEL) Guidance Standards for grades K-12. Superintendent’s Memo #178-21 (July 2, 2021) announced the availability of the SEL Guidance Standards to Virginia school divisions.

The VDOE’s Social Emotional Learning (SEL) efforts are driven by our commitment to ensure that every student in Virginia attends a school that maximizes their potential and prepares them for the future academically, socially, and emotionally. The Department has added a dedicated SEL Guidance Standards webpage that houses additional tools and resources to assist with implementation of the Standards.

The SEL Advisory Committee reconvened after the Standards were developed to discuss what resources divisions need to implement SEL in local school divisions across the state. The feedback gathered from this Committee helped inform the development of the recommendations made in this report.