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How promoting optimistic thinking can truly pay off. For our students, social growth is just as important as academic progress. New research shows that social and emotional learning (SEL) is worth the investment: Every dollar invested in SEL programs returns $11 in long-term benefits.The research f

Mar 31, 2016

How promoting optimistic thinking can truly pay off.


For our students, social growth is just as important as academic progress. New research shows that social and emotional learning (SEL) is worth the investment: Every dollar invested in SEL programs returns $11 in long-term benefits.

The research from the Columbia University’s Center for Benefit-Cost Studies in Education Teachers College analyzed six different SEL programs across the country, plus one in Sweden.

One program discussed is Positive Action, which includes short lessons based on six units: elf-concept; positive actions for your body and mind; managing yourself responsibly; treating others the way you would like to be treated; telling yourself the truth; and improving yourself continually.

Columbia researchers estimated the cost per 100 participants at $51,000, with the classroom teacher making up 74 percent of the budget. The study also accounted for school staff, management, parent time, training, classroom space and materials.

While $51,000 may seem like a hefty investment, it doesn’t compare to its return: $258,000 in benefits. “Assignment to Positive Action yielded impacts on: student self-reported normative beliefs about aggression, bullying and other violent or disruptive behaviors; parental reports of bullying or conduct problems; and on disciplinary actions based on administrative data,” researchers noted.

Similarly, programs were found to provide opportunity in lowered juvenile crime, better health, lower substance abuse and higher lifetime wages. Investing in students today truly pays off for tomorrow.

Learn more about how we can invest in our students by nurturing their gifts.

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