Deep in the heart of Texas: An examination of the social and emotional learning programs and practices in the Lone Star State's public school districts
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Over the past decade, school administrators and teachers from around the nation have expressed a renewed interest in social and emotional learning (SEL). Studies indicate that implementation of SEL programs and practices can lead to improved academic achievement, reduced behavioral problems, and long-term employment benefits. However, there has been limited research on the adoption of SEL in school districts in any state. The purpose of this study was to inventory, categorize, and analyze the SEL programs and practices being implemented in many Texas public school districts and to determine their perceived impact. In addition, a database of the SEL programs and practices currently being utilized by responding districts was created and disseminated throughout the state. A descriptive, mixed methods research design was employed. Utilizing a self-selection sampling technique, an online questionnaire was sent to all 1216 school district superintendents in Texas. Respondents were queried about which SEL programs and practices were being implemented in their respective districts, how and why they were selected, the perceived impact of the programs and practices, and recommendations for other school districts. The data collected were analyzed using both quantitative and qualitative methodologies. Relationships between SEL program and practice implementation and school district characteristics (district size, type, expenditures per student, discipline rate, and academic rating) were examined. All of these data provided a thorough description of the SEL landscape in the Texas school districts that chose to respond.