BATON ROUGE, La. -- The Louisiana Department of Education is developing a program to support the social-emotional needs of students across Louisiana. The Social-Emotional Learning and Academic Integration program (SELA) will equip system and school leaders with the skills to ensure students can understand their emotions, strengthen social behaviors and improve academic achievement.
“The needs of our students are often complex and go beyond academics,” said State Superintendent of Education Dr. Cade Brumley. “Supporting their social-emotional health ultimately leads to greater academic outcomes and happier kids.”
According to information released by the Louisiana Department of Education, SELA will benefit the social and emotional well-being of students and educators. The new program will help lead to stronger school climates and academic and emotional success. SELA will serve students in grades K-12 and is being developed to build upon the social-emotional learning (SEL) work of the LDOE in early childhood. This will ensure students in all grades can access a continuum of SEL. LDOE officials said social and emotional learning is how children and adults learn to understand emotions, set goals, show empathy for others, establish positive relationships and make responsible decisions.
The LDOE is collaborating with LSU to provide high quality, comprehensive support to hundreds of school and system administrators and school leadership teams. Leaders will participate in a series of professional workshops. These five, 6-hour modules are grounded in fundamentals of effective SEL. Topics will include why SEL matters for academic success, SEL through a racial equity lens, promoting adult SEL, embedding SEL into school culture and building SEL into a school improvement plan.
The LDOE is focused on helping schools provide a supportive, equitable and welcoming learning environment created by building a well-being framework for how students and educators acquire and apply social-emotional competencies that lead to student success and achievement. In an effort to address both academic gaps and pervasive discipline problems, the SELA program will support the implementation of a system of evidence-based SEL programs and curricula in school systems and schools with high out of school suspension rates.
Out-of-school suspensions led to Louisiana students missing 30,259 days of instruction during 2018-19. These missed days by students represent over 180,000 hours of missed instruction, or 168 school years of lost learning. Suspensions are often the result of behaviors caused by circumstances of stress, scarcity, trauma, self-doubt, poverty and classrooms that are not inclusive and fail to provide a sense of cultural belonging. The COVID-19 pandemic has exacerbated the inability of some students to positively cope with their social and emotional conditions due to extended periods of social isolation and the experiences of loss, both familial and financial. Students displaying behavior problems often exhibit other high-risk indicators such as excessive absenteeism, lack of engagement, academic difficulties in multiple content areas and grade retention.