In February 2018, Marjorie Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida, experienced a school shooting. In the aftermath, education leaders at Pasco County Schools renewed their commitment to improve school safety and student mental health—which, according to research, can also improve academic learning. District leaders knew that to improve school climate across their district, they had to integrate a shared understanding of social and emotional learning (SEL) into every teacher’s instructional practice. To accomplish this, they devised a districtwide strategy to create and implement their own SEL standards.
With guidance from AIR experts, a core team of district and school stakeholders examined research and existing efforts that provide students with the skills to engage in positive social interactions, master academic content, and become successful students. They then articulated a district SEL commitment statement with overarching goals and sub-goals and poured over existing standards from other states and districts. In less than one year, this team developed a unique set of SEL standards and benchmarks with input from over 65 district and school staff.
The Pasco County Schools SEL standards will live alongside the district academic standards to ensure that all students have the skills they need to become responsible and contributing community members. “The coordinated districtwide strategy to build and adopt SEL standards demonstrates the district’s strong commitment to their vision for instructional excellence upon a foundation of social and emotional health and well-being,” said Deb Moroney, AIR managing director and SEL expert.