"From a Nation at Risk to a Nation at Hope"
A growing movement dedicated to the social, emotional, and academic well-being of children is reshaping learning and changing lives across America....
In the years since A Nation at Risk was published in 1983, education reform has been shuttled back and forth between the federal government and the states and debates among policy-makers have often "produced deep passions and even deeper divisions". Meanwhile, this back and forth has largely ignored the role local communities should play in educating their own children.
According to the prestigious Aspen Institute's National Commission on Social, Emotional & Academic Development, this changed in 2015 when the federal Every Student Succeeds Act devolved a great deal of authority and power to states and local communities, placing the future of education more directly in the hands of parents, teachers, and school leaders. Yet, an increased emphasis on local control was never meant to absolve rigor and responsibility.
Fortunately, the last two decades have produced research that demonstrates social, emotional, and cognitive dimensions of learning are deeply linked. Listening to students, parents, teachers, schools, districts and community leaders over the last two years, the Commission found that "there is a remarkable confluence of local experience and science on one point: Children learn best when we treat them as human beings, with social and emotional as well as academic needs." It is this that gives the reason for hope.
In its final report to the nation, the Commission formulated a series of six recommendations to help accelerate efforts in states and communities:
- Set a clear vision that broadens the definition of student success to prioritize the whole child.
- Transform learning settings so they are safe and supportive for all young people.
- Change instruction to teach students social, emotional, and cognitive skills; embed these skills in academics and schoolwide practices.
- Build adult expertise in child development.
- Align resources and leverage partners in the community to address the whole child.
- Forge closer connections between research and practice by shifting the paradigm for how research gets done.