This symposia provides the conceptual background and initial findings of a large i3 (Investing in Innovation) trial of a model that tests the effectiveness of the CASEL School Guide as an intervention to improve implementation and sustainability of SEL programs. The CASEL Guide for Schoolwide Social and Emotional Learning is a building-level intervention that is designed to reduce barriers to the implementation of SEL programs by: (a) creating a shared vision for SEL that prioritizes the promotion of SEL for all students; (b) identifying existing strengths and supports for SEL and building from those strengths; (c) providing ongoing professional learning; (f) integrating SEL within all areas of school functioning; and (g) a data-driven cycle of inquiry that is designed to improve SEL practice and student outcomes (Meyers et al., 2015).
The three papers present different aspects of a two year randomized clinical trial conducted in K-3 classrooms in 28 high need schools in Chicago. The trial is designed to test the effectiveness of the CASEL Guide by comparing implementation of the PATHS curriculum on its own to implementation of PATHS along with the School Guide. We hypothesized that adding the CASEL Guide would lead to higher quality PATHS implementation, more positive classroom and school climates, and greater student SEL and achievement in the intervention schools compared to control schools.
The first paper will provide an overview of the CASEL Guide including the theoretical basis for the intervention, the tools and resources included within it, and the coaching support provided to schools using this model of support for PATHS. The second paper will describe the details of the independent evaluation that is being conducted by the American Institutes for Research. This will include the research design and data collection strategy. The final paper will present preliminary outcomes from staff surveys and teacher ratings of student behavior and social competence collected after the first year of PATHS implementation.