SEL Research

We have been committed to collecting data and engaging in research to ensure we are having a measurable impact on the kids we serve!

More than 12 million US children live in poverty. Children living in poverty are more likely to lack the basics including food, clothing, adequate housing, and parental support with homework. The stress of these challenges can weigh a child down before they even get out of bed in the morning. Poverty is associated with a higher risk for poor cognitive and academic outcomes, lower school attendance, and grade failure.

  • By fourth grade, students living in the poorest families lag academically 12 – 18 months behind their high-income peers.
  • Low-income students are chronically absent at a rate of three to four times higher than other students.
  • According to a CASEL meta-analysis of 213 studies involving more than 270,000 students, those who participated in evidence-based SEL programs showed an 11 percent gain in academic achievement compared to students who did not participate in SEL programs.
  • A  study by researchers at Columbia University found that the measurable benefits of SEL provide an average return on investment of $11:1.
  • 98 percent of school principals surveyed in a 2017 research study believe that their students would benefit from being taught social and emotional skills.
  • In a recent study, students who participated in evidence-based social and emotional learning (SEL) programs (like the DESSA System) scored 13 points higher academically, had a 6 percent higher high school graduation rate and were 11 percent more likely to graduate from college.


Research shows that encouraging free movement can give children space to develop self-awareness, learn non-verbal ways of communicating and to get to know themselves and their body. Children learn their range of motion, balance, muscle strength, coordination, and endurance. Strong evidence supports the connection between movement and learning. Evidence from imaging sources, anatomical studies, and clinical data shows that moderate exercise enhances cognitive processing. It also increases the number of brain cells

The role of active play has been established not just as a part of learning, but as the basis for overall healthy social and emotional development. In America where learning has become a lot more structured and passive, some child education centers are seeking ways to bring physical movement back into the classroom in different ways - whether its dance, yoga, or free play. Schools and early childhood centers that have integrated more movement into the children's day have seen noticeable gains in their student's attention spans.


  • The prevalence of obesity was 18.5% and affected about 13.7 million children and adolescents.
  • Obesity prevalence was 13.9% among 2- to 5-year-olds, 18.4% among 6- to 11-year-olds, and 20.6% among 12- to 19-year-olds. Childhood obesity is also more common among certain populations.
  • Hispanics (25.8%) and non-Hispanic blacks (22.0%) had higher obesity prevalence than non-Hispanic whites (14.1%).
  • Non-Hispanic Asians (11.0%) had lower obesity prevalence than non-Hispanic blacks and Hispanics.

Obesity and Socioeconomic Status

  • The prevalence of obesity decreased with increasing level of education of the household head among children and adolescents aged 2-19 years.
  • Obesity prevalence was 18.9% among children and adolescents aged 2-19 years in the lowest income group, 19.9% among those in the middle income group, and 10.9% among those in the highest income group.
  • Obesity prevalence was lower in the highest income group among non-Hispanic Asian and Hispanic boys.
  • Obesity prevalence was lower in the highest income group among non-Hispanic white, non-Hispanic Asian, and Hispanic girls. Obesity prevalence did not differ by income among non-Hispanic black girls.