Ohio BOE adopts  K-12 social-emotional learning standards

(Ohio) – New education standards for K-12 have been adopted by the Ohio State Board of  Education that put social-emotional learning (SEL) in line with math, English, and other subjects.

According to the board, the goal of SEL is to develop the “whole child.” Officials explain, “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.”

The department’s explanation of program standards goes on to state, “In Each Child, Our Future, Ohio’s Strategic Plan for Education, social-emotional learning is one of four equal learning domains supporting Ohio’s goal of preparing each student in Ohio for postsecondary life. Through a stakeholder-driven process, Ohio teachers, school counselors, and education personnel developed Ohio’s Social and Emotional Learning Standards for grades kindergarten through twelve (K-12).”

Skeptics of the program express concern about the specifics the state will measure in this area, who will have access to the data and the overall prospect of putting teachers in the role of psychological diagnosticians and therapists.

Board officials explain via the program standards webpage, that the program is voluntary. “Each district and school will decide for itself the extent to which it uses these standards and how it uses these standards. A school’s or district’s choice will be informed by the values and needs of its local community. These standards are meant to be integrated into regular daily activities in school, and they do not mean more classes for students or more work for teachers.”

Officials go on to note, “The Ohio Department of Education will not develop tests to measure students’ progress in learning the standards. Instead, schools and districts will have the flexibility to choose whether and how to gauge the extent to which students are demonstrating mastery of the standards.”

Officials indicate the standards are the first step in the department’s plan to create resources for districts to voluntarily implement or modify to best meet the social-emotional needs of their students.

More information including how the standards are broken down by grade level can be found here.

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