National Commission on Social, Emotional, and Academic Development Offers Path Forward

Aspen Institute report offers recommendations based on two years of research on how to educate the whole student.

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The Aspen Institute released the findings of its National Commission on Social, Emotional, and Academic Development (SEAD) today with recommendations on translating knowledge about how people learn into practice, and helping students develop skills such as collaboration, empathy, and perseverance through systemic changes in education.

From a Nation at Risk to a Nation at Hope asserts that education in this country is at a turning point: it offers specific actions in research, practice, and policy to fundamentally shift how we teach children, with the understanding that the social, emotional, and cognitive dimensions of learning are mutually reinforcing rather than distinct. It also includes strategies that schools, districts, and communities can pursue and examples of places that are finding success with the SEAD approach to learning.  

With philanthropic support from Carnegie Corporation of New York, the commission spent two years seeking input from more than 200 scientists, youth and parent groups, educators, and policymakers. Among the recommendations:

  • Set a clear vision that broadens the definition of student success to prioritize the whole child
  • Transform learning settings so they are safe and supportive for all young people
  • Change instruction to teach students social, emotional, and cognitive skills; embed these skills in academics and school-wide practices
  • Build adult expertise in child development
  • Align resources and leverage partners in the community to address the whole child
  • Forge closer connections between research and practice to generate useful, actionable information for educators

The report also outlines evidence showing SEAD’s positive impact on student attitudes toward school, attendance, safety, test scores, success in college and careers, and overall well-being. According to Aspen Institute, what sets A Nation at Hope apart from other reports is the existing groundswell of support for this body of work and the potential for follow-up and direct action through the Commission's network of partners nationwide.

Learn more about the Corporation’s grantmaking in this area and read the Commission’s report. Follow on Twitter #NationAtHope and @AspenSEAD.