In Massachusetts and across the nation, we are facing a crisis in children’s behavioral health care. Too many of our young people are not getting the support they need because of a shortage of available and accessible services, a lingering stigma around mental health care, and insufficient parity in insurance coverage between physical and behavioral health care. As a place where most children can be reached daily, schools have the potential to help address this issue. Our latest report looks at how schools in Boston are doing just that through the Comprehensive Behavioral Health Model.
For too many young people, the transition from high school to college or a career poses significant challenges. In Boston alone, nearly 5,000 16- to 24-year-olds are not in school or employed. This group, known as Opportunity Youth, represents incredible untapped promise and potential. Our latest report, Career Pathways for Opportunity Youth, takes an in-depth look at what career pathways exist for Opportunity Youth by going straight to the source
Over the last several years we’ve seen the interest in expanding social-emotional learning (SEL) grow exponentially, with district and state leaders joining educators in committing to making it a priority. This commitment has never been more clear to us than on May 1 at our conference focused on the past, present, and future of SEL in Massachusetts. The event was sold out, drawing a crowd of 350 participants who were eager to engage in the topic. Participants heard from 50 speakers throughout the day including members of the Excellence through Social Emotional Learning (exSEL) Network.
For many students, classroom instruction is not enough to ensure success in school. Hunger, homelessness, worry or sadness over a difficult family situation can interfere with a student’s readiness to learn. To create schools that fully support students and improve learning outcomes, , we need to break down barriers to learning by building a system—guided by proven practices—that harnesses the power of both school- and community-based resources.

Educators, community members, and policy-makers across the state are working tirelessly to find the best path forward for schools. They debate what policies will have the biggest impact on student outcomes and what practices will help reduce the achievement gap. They come together to discuss new ideas to improve education. But all too often these conversations are missing a crucial perspective: students themselves.

The Excellence through Social Emotional Learning (exSEL) Network is included as an exemplary approach to supporting students’ social, emotional, and academic development in a report released this week by a prestigious national commission.

For many students, classroom instruction is not enough to ensure success in school and after graduation. For children living in poverty, facing physical or behavioral health challenges, or struggling with academic or social-emotional learning, coming to school ready to learn is not always possible. To give all students the chance for success, we need to find ways to break down barriers to learning. One promising approach known as Integrated Student Support focuses on providing out-of-school resources students and their families.
Standardized tests like the MCAS are certainly not the only way to measure student or school success. There are many factors that go into assessing the quality of a school. But MCAS results do provide a tool to track growth and a window into existing achievement gaps. That’s why 3rd Grade English language arts and 8th Grade Math MCAS are two of the 23 indicators we use to measure progress on our Condition of Education Data Dashboard. The state recently released the latest round of MCAS scores, giving us a chance to dig into these two indicators.
Educators know that academic skills are just one piece of the puzzle when it comes to the success of their students. Understanding math and science is important, but to be prepared for life after graduation students need to understand how to navigate relationships and make healthy decisions too. In fact, research finds that social-emotional skills like these are more indicative of success than IQ. Despite this knowledge, making SEL part of everyday learning is not easy. While many teachers work on these skills in their classroom, the education system as a whole is not yet set up to support widespread implementation of SEL practices. So we're bringing 19 districts together to tackle this challenge in the second year of the Excellence through Social Emotional Leaning Network.

The Rennie Center has made long-time board member Celine Coggins its new board chair. Dr. Coggins, who has been involved with the Rennie Center since its founding in 2005, was recently appointed Executive Director of Grantmakers for Education. She previously led Teach Plus, a nonprofit with a mission to empower educators. She originally launched Teach Plus as a subsidiary of the Rennie Center and has since overseen its rise to a national network of more than 24,000 teachers.