What is SECD?

How do we prepare our children to be knowledgeable, responsible, caring, and contributing members of a pluralistic and global society?

  • Social Emotional and Character Development (SECD) involves the capacity to recognize and manage emotions, solve problems effectively, and establish positive relationships with others—competencies that are essential for the development of all students. SECD is the key to student engagement, vital, healthy thriving, bullying and violence reduction, prevention of drug and alcohol abuse, and increased motivation for learning and creativity. Through courageous leadership, a growing number of schools are closing achievement gaps, increasing student proficiency, building character, and creating caring, supporting, and challenging climates through SECD.
A principal, teacher and student talk about the importance of social-emotional learning and character development at The Urban Assembly, a nonprofit that creates and serves a family of New York City public secondary schools.
Promoting social-emotional and character development of children is, paradoxically, the best opportunity for innovation in education. It is accessible, feasible, sensible, cost-effective, within our grasp, and supported by evidence.
— Maurice Elias

Making the Case for SECD in Schools: What the Research Supports

  • Success in school and life depends on students’ engagement and commitment to school and their perceiving the school as a respectful, safe, and caring place
  • A positive, respectful, engaging school climate predicts lower problem behavior and higher academic achievement
  • Providing students with systematic, continuous, and coordinated programming directed toward Social Emotional and Character Development (SECD) is associated with an 11% rise in standardized test scores and reductions in school dropout, violence, and bullying
  • Bullying is less likely to occur in schools that are perceived as respectful environments
  • Students find Harassment, Intimidation, Bullying, and Victimization prevention and intervention messages valuable when the staff members are seen as genuinely caring and when students perceive themselves as engaged in school
  • Evidence-based after-school programs designed to systematically build social-emotional competencies are successful in improving feelings of self-confidence, attitudes toward school, positive social behaviors, grades, and achievement test scores
  • Evidence-based after-school SECD programs are also successful in reducing aggression, noncompliance, conduct problems, and drug use, but all of these effects are obtained ONLY if programs are implemented with fidelity
  • People with emotional intelligence skills are more likely to advance in the workplace and be successful managers and leaders
  • Organizations that systematically promote employees' emotional intelligence do better on the "bottom line" than they did previously or in experimental comparisons