social emotional learning standards in all 50 states
Aug 07 2020
Updated at: Jan 22 2024

Social-Emotional Learning (SEL) Standards in All 50 States

Positive Action Staff
SEL standards have expanded throughout school systems in the U.S. for decades, allowing educators and parents to see positive change in their students.

Social-emotional learning works. As more states adopt the SEL as a regular part of student learning, the need for standards increases.

What are Social Emotional Learning Standards?

Educators, counselors, and teachers have specific standards they must meet for traditional, core instruction. The U.S. Department of Education defines standards as “set goals for what students should know and be able to do while learning academic content.”

In a sense, social-emotional learning standards are similar. They provide a shared language with which educators and politicians can discuss what students should be learning from their SEL curriculum.

Standards also help determine developmentally, grade-appropriate goals for students and teachers to work toward.

Social-emotional learning standards provide a “continuum of development across 5 SEL competencies: Self-Awareness, Self-Management, Social Awareness, Relationship Skills, and Responsible Decision-Making,” according to the Ohio Department of Education.

Standards List for all 50 States

Each state determines the standards for social-emotional learning on their own. We’ve provided links to each state that has criteria below.

Every state with SEL common core standards presents them differently. Take the time to read through your state’s educational website. They usually outline their goals, philosophy, and educational requirements for students as they progress through school.

  1. Alabama: Link
  2. Alaska: -
  3. Arizona: -
  4. Arkansas: -
  5. California: Link
  6. Colorado: Link
  7. Connecticut: Link
  8. Delaware: Link
  9. Florida: -
  10. Georgia: Link
  11. Hawaii: -
  12. Idaho: Link
  13. Illinois: Link
  14. Indiana: Link
  15. Iowa: -
  16. Kansas: Link
  17. Kentucky: -
  18. Louisiana: -
  19. Maine: Link
  20. Maryland: Link
  21. Massachusetts: Link | Link
  22. Michigan: Link
  23. Minnesota: -
  24. Mississippi: -
  25. Missouri: Link
  26. Montana: -
  27. Nebraska: -
  28. Nevada: Link
  29. New Hampshire: Link
  30. New Jersey: Link
  31. New Mexico: -
  32. New York: Link
  33. North Carolina: -
  34. North Dakota: Link
  35. Ohio: Link
  36. Oklahoma: -
  37. Oregon: Link
  38. Pennsylvania: Link
  39. Rhode Island: Link
  40. South Carolina: -
  41. South Dakota: -
  42. Tennessee: Link
  43. Texas: -
  44. Utah: -
  45. Vermont: Link
  46. Virginia: -
  47. Washington: Link
  48. West Virginia: Link
  49. Wisconsin: Link
  50. Wyoming: -

How Many States have Social Emotional Standards?

Not all states have determined their SEL standards. Only 29 states have provided these guidelines to their educators and teachers.

The lack of specific guidelines does not mean that the state education board does not encourage social, emotional learning. It only means that they have not codified the level of achievement to which students should aspire.

Which States Have SEL Standards?

For your convenience, we’ve listed each state that has provided SEL learning standards by region.

The Western States

  • California
  • Colorado
  • Idaho
  • Nevada
  • Oregon
  • Washington

The Mid-Western States

  • Illinois
  • Indiana
  • Kansas
  • Michigan
  • Missouri
  • North Dakota
  • Ohio
  • Wisconsin

The Southern States

  • Alabama
  • Delaware
  • Georgia
  • Maryland
  • Tennessee
  • West Virginia

The North-Eastern States

  • Connecticut
  • Massachusetts
  • Maine
  • New Hampshire
  • New Jersey
  • New York
  • Pennsylvania
  • Rhode Island
  • Vermont

Positive Action Supports SEL Standards

Through social-emotional education, students gain confidence, emotional intelligence, and social skills, which will influence them for the rest of their lives. And those benefits spread from the schools into families and communities.

Elementary schools that have implemented Positive Action have seen:

  • A 62% reduction in violence
  • 51% fewer bullying incidents
  • Absenteeism reduced by 28%
  • A 73% shrinkage in suspensions
  • 85% fewer disciplinary referrals

The use of prohibited substances lowered and achievement in math, reading, and physical health improved in Positive Action schools, too.

The Positive Action SEL program teaches core academic lessons alongside its SEL objectives. Independent researchers have found a high level of alignment with English Language Arts standards for K-12 grades. It also aligns with Early Childhood Education learning standards for Pre-K.

For more information on how each Positive Action lesson aligns with seven academic standards on average, and what that means in your state, click here.

If your state has not standardized social-emotional learning requirements, speak to your leadership, and contact your representatives. Positive Action qualifies for federal funding under the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA), and there may be opportunities for state funding as well.

For more information about our program, feel free to reach out via chat, email, or call us at (800) 345-2974.