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Public Policy and Administration


Gema Hernandez


Public policymakers have failed to address public high school students' social and emotional learning (SEL). Recent public policies such as Common Core State Standards (CCSS) do not measure SEL outcomes as significant. Public education is government funded and therefore public policy driven. Research indicates SEL competencies have a positive influence on students' academic successes, classroom behaviors, and future career outcomes. The conceptual framework for this study was based on SEL components described by the Collaborative for Academic, Social, and Emotional Learning (CASEL) and served as the lens though which the data were analyzed. Research questions for this phenomenological study explored teachers' self-reported knowledge and classroom implementation of the 5 SEL tenets: self-awareness, self-management, social awareness, relationship skills, and responsible decision-making skills. Participants were a purposive sample of 10 teachers of all subjects and levels at Title 1 schools in the southwestern United States. Semistructured open-ended interviews were used to collect the data. Key results indicated teachers needed clarification on SEL competencies and wanted SEL training. Participants discussed structured SEL activities necessary for well-rounded citizens. SEL may contribute to positive social change if policymakers, education administrators, teachers, and other stakeholders seeking policy reforms focus on SEL inclusion into public policies such as CCSS.