Enhancing School-Based Prevention and Youth Development Through Coordinated Social, Emotional, and Academic Learning




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American Psychologist

© 2003 by the American Psychological Association

June/July 2003 Vol. 58,  No. 6/7,  466-474

DOI: 10.1037/0003-066X.58.6-7.466

 

For personal use only--not for distribution.



Enhancing School-Based Prevention and Youth Development Through Coordinated Social, Emotional, and Academic Learning


Mark T. Greenberg
Collaborative for Academic, Social, and Emotional Learning
Prevention Research Center, Pennsylvania State University
Roger P. Weissberg
Collaborative for Academic, Social, and Emotional Learning
Department of Psychology, University of Illinois at Chicago
Mary Utne O'Brien
Collaborative for Academic, Social, and Emotional Learning
Department of Psychology, University of Illinois at Chicago
Joseph E. Zins
Collaborative for Academic, Social, and Emotional Learning
Division of Special Education, University of Cincinnati
Linda Fredericks
Collaborative for Academic, Social, and Emotional Learning
Department of Psychology, University of Illinois at Chicago
Hank Resnik
Collaborative for Academic, Social, and Emotional Learning
Department of Psychology, University of Illinois at Chicago
Maurice J. Elias
Collaborative for Academic, Social, and Emotional Learning
Department of Psychology, Rutgers University


ABSTRACT


A comprehensive mission for schools is to educate students to be knowledgeable, responsible, socially skilled, healthy, caring, and contributing citizens. This mission is supported by the growing number of school-based prevention and youth development programs. Yet, the current impact of these programs is limited because of insufficient coordination with other components of school operations and inattention to implementation and evaluation factors necessary for strong program impact and sustainability. Widespread implementation of beneficial prevention programming requires further development of research-based, comprehensive school reform models that improve social, health, and academic outcomes; educational policies that demand accountability for fostering children's full development; professional development that prepares and supports educators to implement programs effectively; and systematic monitoring and evaluation to guide school improvement.





To be effective, schools must concentrate on their fundamental mission of teaching and learning. And they must do it for all children. That must be the overarching goal of schools in the twenty-first century. (Ravitch, 2000, p. 467)

What is the fundamental mission of preschool through high school education in the 21st century? Under what school ecology and climate conditions will students benefit maximally and teachers instruct most effectively? What aspirations does one have for high school graduates who become the future workers, citizens, and leaders? Successful schools ensure that all students master reading, writing, math, and science. They also foster a good understanding of history, literature, arts, foreign languages, and diverse cultures. However, most educators, parents, students, and the public support a broader educational agenda that also involves enhancing students' social–emotional competence, character, health, and civic engagement (Metlife, 2002; Public Agenda, 1994, 1997, 2002; Rose & Gallup, 2000). In addition to producing students who are culturally literate, intellectually reflective, and committed to lifelong learning, high-quality education should teach young people to interact in socially skilled and respectful ways; to practice positive, safe, and healthy behaviors; to contribute ethically and responsibly to their peer group, family, school, and community; and to possess basic competencies, work habits, and values as a foundation for meaningful employment and engaged citizenship (Elias et al., 1997; Jackson & Davis, 2000; Learning First Alliance, 2001; Osher, Dwyer, & Jackson, 2002).

In this article we review a broad range of evidence indicating that school-based prevention and youth development interventions are most beneficial when they simultaneously enhance students' personal and social assets, as well as improve the quality of the environments in which students are educated (Eccles & Appleton, 2002; Weissberg & Greenberg, 1998). We consequently assert that school-based prevention programming—based on coordinated social, emotional, and academic learning—should be fundamental to preschool through high school education. As such, critical challenges for effective and sustained school-based prevention and youth development are intertwined with the broader challenges of educational reform and improvement.
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