What excites us: Nation at Hope study

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A Recap of the Nation at Hope Study

Back when I was in college I read Wisdom of Crowds by James Surowiecki. I’m over simplifying a bit but at its core the book centers around the premise that a diverse group of people often reach better decisions than individuals. It was through this lens that I first approached the Nation at Hope study conducted by the National Commission on Social, Emotional, & Academic Development.

The commission includes an incredibly diverse group of people ranging from Colorado’s 2016 Teacher of the Year Leticia Guzman Ingram to three former state governors to a retired general to CEOs of Fortune 500 Companies. Far too often educational initiatives rely on one perspective. This is why I’m really excited about Nation at Hope--it brings together perspectives ranging from leaders in education, academia, medicine, business, and politics with one common goal in mind: how can we improve education for all students across this country.

I highly encourage everyone to check out the reports full findings in order to gain wisdom from the crowd that composed the communique. But I’m also realistic and recognize you may not have time to read the entire 80 page report just yet. Hopefully this summary offers tangible suggestions for ways you can improve your school’s culture.

Nation at Hope Key Findings

1) Investing in social & emotional learning can unify a school community

3 quotes from the study we love on this topic

    1. “More than nine in 10 parents think that schools have a role in reinforcing the development of what they typically call “life skills.”

    2. “At least two-thirds of current and recent high school students agree that attending a school focused on social and emotional learning would help improve their relationships with teachers and peers, their learning of academic material, and their preparation for college, careers, and citizenship”

    3. “Nine out of 10 teachers believe social and emotional skills can be taught and benefit students. Four in five teachers want more support to address students’ social and emotional development.”

2) SEL helps students maximize their potential

3 quotes from the study we love on this topic

    1. “The promotion of social, emotional, and academic learning is not a shifting educational fad; it is the substance of education itself. It is not a distraction from the “real work” of math and English instruction; it is how instruction can succeed.”

    2. “It is a mistake to view social and emotional learning as a “soft” approach to education. Quite the opposite. An emphasis on these capacities is not the sacrifice of rigor; it is a source of rigor.”

    3. “A recent study found that teachers’ impact on students’ social and emotional skills is 10 times more predictive of students’ longer-term success in high school (as measured by on-time graduation, grade-point average at graduation, taking the SAT, and reported intentions to enroll in a four-year college) than teachers’ impact on student test scores.”

3) Providing access to SEL is an equity issue

3 quotes from the study we love on this topic

    1. “As this report documents, social and emotional learning benefits all children, of every background. But it disproportionally benefits children from low-income communities, many of whom experience trauma and adversity resulting from insecure access to housing, food, health care, and safety.”

    2. “Success in the future economy also rests on this broad set of integrated skills, as reflected over the past 30 years in greater labor market demand and higher wages for people who have these skills. Employers recognize that it doesn’t matter how much workers know if they can’t work well in teams, communicate clearly, and persevere when confronted with complex problems.”

    3. “Ensuring access to high-quality, equitable learning environments that respond to each child’s needs, assets, culture, and stage of development can help mitigate some of these stresses and provide a pathway to a more equitable future.”

4) SEL improves a school’s culture

3 quotes from the study we love on this topic

    1. “While not a stand alone solution, ensuring that young people feel they belong and are emotionally and physically safe in schools can serve as a critical and primary prevention strategy against school violence.”

    2. “When schools work to build strong relationships, offer mental health supports, and teach students social and emotional skills—such as solving problems, advocating for themselves, and resolving conflicts with others—they become safer. A review of more than 206 studies found that the more supportive the school climate, the less bullying and other aggressive and violent behaviors occur in schools.”

    3. “A growing body of research suggests that developing teachers’ social and emotional competencies improves teacher well-being, reduces stress and burnout, and can reduce teacher and principal turnover. Teachers also report greater job satisfaction when their students are more engaged and successful.”

Join the movement like ASSET Education and declare your support for education focused on the whole child.


About the Author

Brent Modak followed the example set by his grandfather and entered the classroom first as a middle school teacher before moving up to teach high school history. As a member of the ASSET team, Brent helped develop the curriculum and led in the implementation of the program across all of ASSET’s partner schools. When not teaching Brent enjoys spending time with his beautiful wife and newborn baby, Lewis.


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