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Research Study Shows Social-Emotional Strengths Help Children Do Well in School

VILLANOVA, Pa., May 13 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- Children's social-emotional competencies are directly related to how well they do in math and reading according to the results of a study presented at the annual meeting of the American Educational Research Association in Denver, Colorado. This research study shows a direct and significant correlation between good mental health and academic performance.

The finding is based on a year-long study involving more than 1,000 public school children conducted by the Devereux Center for Resilient Children in Villanova, Pa. and the Anchorage Alaska School District.

In the study, the social-emotional strengths of children in kindergarten through the eighth grade were assessed with the Devereux Student Strengths Assessment (DESSA). The DESSA is a 72 item, strength-based, social and emotional competencies assessment completed by teachers or parents, although only teachers were involved in this study. The DESSA scores were then correlated with students' reading and math grades. Strong positive correlations were found, indicating that social-emotional skills in school are related to how well children do in math and reading.

"The data indicate that about 25 percent of the variance in math and reading grades can be accounted for by the children's social and emotional skills," said Paul LeBuffe, Co-Director of the Devereux Center for Resilient Children and one of the authors of the study.

"This research is compelling in many ways," said LeBuffe. "We know that mental health has significant impact on the overall well-being of children; these data indicate just how critical it is to academic success as well."

The Anchorage School District is on the leading edge of implementing Social and Emotional Learning (SEL) standards, adopting them district-wide in 2006. Ann McKay Bryson is the Social Emotional Learning Professional Development Coach from the Anchorage School District and the study's co-author. "These findings suggest that by developing children's social and emotional skills we can help them learn better in school. Furthermore, these same social and emotional skills are important for success in the community, the home, and the workplace," noted McKay Bryson. The Anchorage School District's superintendent, the Alaska Association of School Boards, and The Collaborative for Academic, Social and Emotional Learning (CASEL) are working collaboratively to encourage establishment and funding of SEL standards nationwide.

Devereux is a leading nonprofit behavioral health organization that supports many of the most underserved and vulnerable members of our communities. Founded in 1912 by Helena Devereux, we operate a comprehensive national network of clinical, therapeutic, educational, and employment programs and public education and prevention programs and services that positively impact the lives of tens of thousands of individuals and families every year. We help empower children and adults with intellectual, emotional, developmental and behavioral challenges to lead fulfilling and rewarding lives.




Source: Devereux

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