Giving Compass' Take:

• RAND Corporation discusses the importance of social and emotional learning (SEL) to student development, but calls attention to the fact that few standards exist across the U.S.

• How do we know what's working and what's not if we don't have good data? Nonprofit groups in the education space and work from orgs like RAND can go a long way to giving us measurable benchmarks.

• Here's how to get classroom culture right with practical SEL.

In schools across America, perseverance is making a comeback, respect is getting its due, and relationships are as much a part of the lesson plan as reading, writing, and arithmetic.

Teachers call it social and emotional learning, or SEL. Its goal is to give students the skills they need to work in teams, communicate their ideas, manage their emotions — even stand up to a schoolyard bully. For anyone who has ever complained that kids these days don't have the strength of character, the stick-to-it-iveness, of previous generations, here's one way to better ensure they do.

But this is still a new frontier for American education.

Only a handful of states have standards for social and emotional learning, and key federal education laws make no mention of it. RAND researchers have worked in recent years to better define what works in SEL, how more schools can implement it, and — importantly — how to assess student mastery of something like empathy or self-control.

“These are skills that students need to succeed in jobs and in life,” said Laura Hamilton, a senior behavioral scientist at RAND. “Employers and colleges have said that many high school graduates have not developed these skills adequately.”

Read the full article about how SEL prepares students for life by Doug Irving at