Implementing Social and Emotional Learning Districtwide

UW SMART Center & Richland School District
December 2022
illustration of four people working on a puzzle

A Cohesive, Aligned Approach to Social and Emotional Learning

Richland School District in Southeast Washington state wanted to implement a cohesive, districtwide approach to social and emotional learning (SEL). The approach needed to be aligned with the state’s essential SEL elements of equity, universal design, cultural responsiveness, and trauma-informed practices and include a full complement of curriculum, teaching practices, strategies, and resources.

How We Helped

Education Northwest partnered with the University of Washington’s School Mental Health Assessment Research and Training (SMART) Center on a series of in-person meetings for district educators, families, and community leaders in order to help educate and guide them. In this series of meetings we:

  • Shared our research on transformational, evidence-based SEL practices and resources
  • Discussed the basics of SEL and the skills, attributes, and supports needed and associated with it
  • Educated participants on the potential impact of SEL on student outcomes and on the state’s unique approach to SEL

We also held regular meetings with the district leadership team to:

  • Help define the district’s priorities around skills and supports needed to implement a cohesive, scalable SEL plan
  • Recommend available curricula and how to adapt them to the district’s needs while still implementing them with fidelity
  • Apply identified priorities to create a plan of action
  • Introduce and apply a tool that condensed the review process of hundreds of evidence-based curriculum programs into one that included only a few subsets, all of which met the priorities, parameters, and goals of the district

Ready For the Next Step

As a result of this work the district is rethinking its SEL team structure to give more people a voice and help advocate for SEL as an effective academic strategy and investment. The district now has the resources, tools, and insights they need to understand SEL more holistically. The district plans to present its recommendations and rationale for curriculum and training requests and budgeted expenses to the school board in 2023.

Download Case Brief

Project Team

  • Vicki Nishioka

    Leader, Equity, School Climate, & SEL

  • Julie Petrokubi

    Managing Researcher. Equitable Learning Environments

  • Sarah Pierce
    Sarah Pierce

    Leader, Equitable Learning Environments