Caring School Community Data

Caring School Community: Research Shows Positive Impact on Student Success

A large body of research confirms that building a safe and caring school community and attending to social and emotional learning (SEL) are essential to students’ overall success.

Two federally funded evaluations of the CASEL SELect Caring School Community program (and its predecessor) demonstrate positive impact on:

  • Student achievement in reading and mathematics
  • Students grades in core academic classes
  • Lower suspensions and referrals

When students feel connected to their schools, they not only perform better academically, they develop emotional resilience, healthy prosocial skills, and strong moral compasses that serve them well for their entire lives.

Research Study with San Francisco Unified School District

A federally funded, third-party randomized trial of Caring School Community was conducted from 2003 to 2006 by the San Francisco Unified School District’s research department. This study involved twelve underperforming elementary schools, six that were randomly selected to implement the Caring School Community program while the other six served as a control group. Over the two-year intervention period, from spring 2003 to spring 2005, students in the Caring School Community schools showed significantly stronger academic growth in both reading and math as measured by the California Standards Test. Learn more about the study here.

The following graph depicts the reading and math scores for the two sets of schools at baseline and after one and two years of Caring School Community implementation. It shows no differential gains in achievement after one year, but then sizeable gains in reading and especially math achievement for students in Caring School Community schools during the second year of implementation. These differential gains were attributed to the development of stronger “school bonding” (i.e., a stronger affective commitment to the school and its values and goals) among students in Caring School Community schools.

Research Study with Cooperating School Districts of St. Louis, MO

In this four-year, third-party study funded by the U.S. Department of Education, forty schools in the Cooperating School Districts of St. Louis were randomly assigned to four treatment groups of ten schools each—three groups of schools implemented the Caring School Community program, while the fourth group served as a control.

The three treatment groups of Caring School Community schools began implementing Caring School Community in successive years: the first group in 2002–03, the second group in 2003–04, and the third group in 2004–05. Outcomes were measured annually via surveys of students, surveys of teaching staff, records of student discipline referrals, and Missouri state achievement test scores in math and reading. Learn more about the study here.

Student behavior referrals decreased for schools implementing Caring School Community, compared to control schools. As the following graph shows, there was a 24% decline in student discipline referrals (for bullying, aggression, fighting, vandalism, insolence, and cheating) in Caring School Community program schools, compared to a 42% increase in student referrals in the control schools. ES = .40.