This is the third in a four-part series exploring how the COVID-19 pandemic has impacted education. COVID-19 has raised long-term questions about how our education system operates and how best it can serve its students, especially students of color, low-income students, and students with learning differences. Many of these questions demand action from federal policymakers to ensure we don’t return to the same approaches that have perpetuated systemic inequities for generations. KnowledgeWorks encourages ongoing discussion on these questions in the coming school year – and beyond.
COVID-19 elevated the importance of social-emotional learning. Now how do we center it in our education systems?
Interest in social-emotional learning was on the rise before COVID-19, but the pandemic laid bare the challenges in meeting the needs of students suffering severe trauma on top of learning loss. The pandemic also elevated the importance of critical skills like self-direction, creativity and resiliency – skills students need now more than ever to ensure mastery of traditional academic content.
As social-emotional learning ascends to a mainstream necessity, federal policymakers must consider how to reflect its importance in federal education laws that have historically focused student success on mastery of math, reading and science standards. While those content areas remain essential, it’s time to broaden our perspective of student success and design systems that provide students with a strong foundation for learning.
Policymakers should urgently assess whether enough is being done to meet the present need and begin to strengthen delivery systems for upcoming and future school years.