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Ohio Expands Social-Emotional Learning Standards To All Grade Levels

The Ohio State Board of Education is expanding its social-emotional learning standards to include all students.

Department of Education implemented standards for children in kindergarten through third grade starting in 2012, to build skills in five areas, including self-awareness and decision making. The new standards now include all students, through 12th grade.

"Social-emotional learning is the process through which children and adults acquire and effectively apply the knowledge, attitudes and skills necessary to understand and manage emotions, set and achieve positive goals, feel and show empathy for others, establish and maintain positive relationships and make responsible decisions," according to the Ohio Department of Education's social-emotional learning materials.

The programming will help students succeed in school and in life, says State Board of Education President Laura Kohler.

“Children who can’t self-regulate or who don’t have basic skills to interact with their peers — they are in a struggle to learn,” she says.

The standards are aimed to develop the “whole child."

"As individual districts begin to recognize the importance of dealing with the whole child, then we’re going to begin to see achievement scores go up," Kohler says. "What we’re expecting to see is that we will highlight the focus of the importance of this area for school districts and teachers. And research indicates that we’re going to see scores rise and children become more successful."

Carla Chapman, Akron Public Schools community relations director, says her district has had such practices in place for decades, but now these standards can become common practice across the state, changing the narrative for all children who struggle emotionally.

These programs give kids strategies to manage their own behaviors, Chapman says, and also provides adults with constructive and productive strategies to help kids think differently about situation that might be triggers for them.

Akron's GAR Foundation awarded $1.2 million dollars earlier this year to Akron schools so elementary students could participate in Essential Experiences field trips — another form of social-emotional learning. Chapman says the district continues to plan more programs like these.

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