Washington Social Emotional Learning

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Social Emotional Learning (SEL)


Washington Social Emotional Learning Standards and Benchmarks were adopted on

January 1, 2020. 

Read the letter from the OSPI Superintendent endorsing this adoption.

The SEL standards, benchmarks and indicators create a framework to assist educators in intentionally infusing SEL skills into instruction throughout the day. Research shows that when SEL skills are taught with fidelity the following benefits were seen:
  • There was an increased interest in learning
  • Students felt better about themselves, others, and school
  • Students did better on standardized tests
  • Students had an increase in SEL skills
  • There was a decrease in emotional distress
  • There were fewer classroom conduct problems
  • There was a decrease in bullying

Durlak, J.A... The Impact of Enhancing Students’ Social and Emotional Learning: A Meta-Analysis of School-Based Universal Interventions. Child Development.

Tammy Bolen

Tammy Bolen

SEL Program Supervisor

Tammy started working for OSPI in November. Since that time, she has done 31 conference, district, school, and organization presentations to promote and expand the understanding of SEL and the work  Washington has done in SEL. 
Tammy is a member and has organized the start of the legislatively mandated SEL Advisory Committee.
She leads the Strategic Communication Collaboration team in a  multi-state collaborative working with The Center to Improve Social Emotional Learning and School Safety, WestED, and CCSSO.
She has worked with the Professional Education Standards Board to review and align the SEL standards with the teaching, principal and paraeducator standards.
She  has joined the School Safety and Well-Being Committee, the School Refusal Workgroup, OSPI Behavior and Discipline Collaborative, and OSPI Wellness Committee.
She has collaborated with the Learning Assistance  Program (LAP), 21st Century team, Behavioral Health and Suicide Prevention team, MTSS team, School Improvement staff, and the Native Education team.
Washington is a part of the Collaborative for Academic, Social and Emotional Learning (CASEL) state initiative and Tammy is serving as the lead for this project.
She also produced a list of SEL Activities for Families and Educators with the help of CASEL CSI states, Committee for Children, members of the SEL Advisory Committee and OSPI staff. In addition, she is working with REL NW to provide the Washington SEL Building Capacity training series for ESD and district teams. 
All of this  to say that there has been and is a lot happening in Washington with SEL!
SEL image

Click on image for a video on Social Emotional Learning: What is SEL and Why SEL Matters

A Personal Message:

I am wishing you and your family health and safety during this unprecedented time.  Humans are hard wired to connect and during this time of social distancing, we know that it may cause social isolation. We don't know the impact that this will have on our students, but we know it puts them at risk for an adverse childhood event (ACE).  SEL skills provide protection against trauma. To learn more about trauma-informed practices, click on the SEL Module link below.  Segment 5 includes information about what happens in the brain with stress and trauma. It includes best practices and strategies.  It also talks about compassion fatigue and the importance of self-care.

Please take care and stay safe!

Tammy Bolen

Washington SEL Guiding Principles and Resources

Social emotional learning is broadly understood as a process through which individuals build awareness and skills in managing emotions, setting goals, establishing relationships, and making responsible decisions that support success in school and in life. 

Washington State SEL Framework and Guiding Principles

1. SEL implementation starts with capacity building.

2. SEL requires collaboration between families, educators, community partners, and young people in its design and implementation.

3. Washington State SEL is shaped by a commitment to the following four guiding principles:

  • Equity: Each child receives what he or she needs to develop his or her full potential.
  • Culturally responsive: Culture is viewed as a resource for learning, not a barrier.
  • Universal design: Learning differences are planned for and accommodated.
  • Trauma-informed: Knowledge of the effects of trauma is integrated into policy and practice.


Washington SEL Resources

The OSPI SEL webpage contains a plethora of evidence-based SEL resources for educational staff. These resources were developed by a number of SEL workgroups over the past 5 years. 

SEL Standards, Benchmarks and Indicators : This document provides a scaffolded framework identifying observable developmental standards, benchmarks, and Indicators.

The SEL Implementation Guide : This Guide aligns with other SEL resources in Washington State such as the Washington SEL Standards, Benchmarks and Indicators, SEL Briefs, and the SEL Module, which are all part of Washington State’s SEL Resource Package.

SEL Module is designed for educators, administrators, school staff, others professionals, and parents who interact with youth as a means to help them build and improve their understanding of social emotional skills.

SEL Briefs give a short overview of SEL geared toward a specific audience or topic. They include the following:

 Educational Leaders


Parents and Families

Youth Organization Workers

Culturally Responsive SEL

Equity Brief

SEL Activities for Families and Educators - This document provides some quick SEL activities that families and educators can do with their kids.

Social Emotional Learning Advisory Committee

The Second Senate Bill 5082 mandates OSPI convene and staff an SEL Advisory Committee.  This committee is made up of legislatively mandated members whose goal is to promote and expand SEL in the state of Washington. 

The following links have been fixed:

Click on schedule to find the SEL Advisory Committee meeting dates.

The members of the committee can be found here .


***Next issue will include:

  •  SEL Advisory Committee work update
  • Legislation around SEL
  • The SEL Open Educational Resources (OER) page