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New LDOE program aims to support social, emotional success of students

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Posted at 7:43 PM, Jan 30, 2021
and last updated 2021-01-30 21:56:03-05

A new program developed by the Louisiana Department of Education will support the social and emotional needs of students across Louisiana.

In partnership with LSU, the Social-Emotional Learning and Academic Integration program, or SELA, will equip school and system leaders with skills to ensure students can understand their emotions, strengthen social behaviors, and improve academic achievement.

SELA will serve students in grades K-12 and is being developed to build upon the social-emotional learning (SEL) work of the LDOE in early childhood.

The Department of Education is partnering with LSU to provide comprehensive support to hundreds of school and system administrators and leadership teams. Leaders will participate in a series of professional workshops, focusing on topics like why SEL matters for academic success, promoting adult SEL, and building SEL into a school improvement plan.

In an effort to address both academic gaps and discipline problems, officials say the SELA program will support the implementation of evidence-based SEL programs and curricula in school systems and schools with high out of school suspension rates.

According to LDOE, out of school suspensions led to Louisiana students missing 30,259 days of instruction during 2018-19. This represents over 180,000 hours of missed instruction, or 168 school years of lost learning. The department adds that the COVID-19 pandemic has exacerbated the inability of some students to positively cope with their social and emotional conditions due to extended periods of social isolation and experiences of loss.

Research has shown that SEL programs "significantly improve" students' social and emotional skills, behavior, attitudes, and academic performances. These are skills that experts say are more important now than ever before, according to the American Psychological Association.

"The needs of our students are often complex and go beyond academics," said State Superintendent of Education Dr. Cade Brumley. "Supporting their social-emotional health ultimately leads to greater academic outcomes and happier kids."

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