Long-term effects of social-emotional learning

A study published in AERA Open looks at the long-term effects of the INSIGHTS programme – a social-emotional learning intervention that supports children’s ability to self-regulate by enhancing their attention and behaviour management.

Between 2008 and 2012, a total of 22 elementary (primary) schools from three New York City school districts were randomly assigned to participate in the INSIGHTS programme or to an attention-control condition (an after-school reading programme). A previous study found that the INSIGHTS programme reduced children’s disruptive behaviour and increased behavioural engagement by the end of first grade (Year 2). This study uses administrative data for those pupils to examine whether receiving the intervention in kindergarten and first grade (Years 1 and 2) had any impact on provision of special education services or grade retention (whether pupils had to repeat a year) by the end of fifth grade (Year 6). The study also considers whether impacts varied for low- versus high-income pupils.

The findings suggest that pupils in the INSIGHTS programme were less likely to receive special education services between kindergarten and fifth grade (p < .05). In addition, low-income pupils enrolled in the INSIGHTS programme were also less likely to receive special education services between kindergarten and fifth grade compared with low-income children enrolled in the attention-control condition (p < .05).

There were no effects of INSIGHTS on grade retention up to the end of fifth grade and this did not vary according to income.

Source: Long-term effects of social–emotional learning on receipt of special education and grade retention: Evidence from a randomized trial of INSIGHTS (August 2019), AERA Open, DOI. 10.1177/2332858419867290

Do EAL pupils need an extra year to learn English?

Since 2002, all third grade (Year 4) pupils in Florida are required to obtain specific state-wide reading test scores in order to progress to the fourth grade (Year 5). A new NBER working paper considers whether this third grade retention policy, which includes additional teaching and support in reading, might be particularly beneficial for pupils with English as an additional language (EAL).

David N Figlio and Umut Özek used longitudinal data for all pupils between grades three and ten (Years 4 to 11) from 12 US school districts in Florida in order to examine the short-, medium- and long-term effects of repeating the third grade on EAL pupils’ English skills, as measured by their reading test scores, the length of time needed for them to reach required levels of English proficiency, and their course choice in middle and high school.

The results find that repeating the third grade (Year 4) can help to improve the English skills of EAL pupils, and that the benefits are even greater for EAL pupils born outside of the US, pupils whose first language is Spanish, and pupils in lower-poverty elementary schools.

Specifically, they suggest that EAL pupils who repeat the third grade:

  • do better on reading test scores in elementary and middle school
  • reach the required levels of English proficiency in half the time
  • are less likely to take a remedial English course in middle school
  • are more likely to take an advanced course in maths and science in middle school
  • are more likely to take college credit-bearing courses in high school.

Source: An extra year to learn English? Early grade retention and the human capital development of English learners (January 2019), NBER Working Paper No. 25472, National Bureau of Economics Research