• How the pandemic made social-emotional learning more accessible

    Photograph of children in classroom

    Katari Coleman is senior project director for Education Development Center and co-leads the National Center on Afterschool and Summer Enrichment.

    Throughout history, tragic events have served as springboards for advancements in quality of life. For example, World War II innovations like influenza vaccines, penicillin, radars and jet engines were developed and still serve vital purposes to society. For this moment in time, the COVID-19 pandemic allowed social-emotional learning to undergo a similar development.

    Social-emotional learning, or SEL, is essential for managing emotions and problem-solving. It equips an individual with the ability to deal with difficulties that may arise throughout their life and the ability to build relationships and navigate the community they live in.

    But amid the pandemic, millions of students lost socialization and structure because of disrupted daily life, including invaluable interactions and expectations from their participation in school, afterschool and summer programming, community and religious organizations, and other extracurricular activities. These barriers illuminated an urgent and often unmet need for accessible social-emotional learning supports.

    In the two years since the pandemic began affecting American life, some states and districts began touting the value of SEL for student success, and committing to new investments and strategies for meeting the social and emotional needs of students. Below are some of the ways we’ve seen advances in SEL accessibility during this moment of crisis and transformation.

    Championing SEL for both students and adults

    To better address the SEL disruptions students and adults were experiencing, states and districts used social media platforms to make a renewed push around the importance of SEL, distributing support documents, tip sheets, briefs and other resources to make sure communities were aware of strategies to foster SEL.

    For example, California used Facebook Live and Twitter to engage education professionals, families and students in discussions about SEL and mental health supports throughout the pandemic. In particular, the California Department of Education’s Twitter campaign for the SEL WikiWisdom forum yielded over 160,000 impressions — illuminating the voices of classroom educators who may not have been heard otherwise.

    Coordinating SEL and mental health supports

    SEL and mental health are not the same, but SEL can promote positive mental health and should be implemented as part of a system of mental wellness supports and resources that include promotion, prevention, early intervention and treatment. This type of coordination is now promoted by states, local districts, and federal programs with intentionality.

    While not entirely novel, due to popular tiered SEL approaches like the Pyramid model, what is recent are the efforts taken to compile these supports to make them more accessible.

    The federal Office of Child Care Initiative to Improve Social-Emotional Wellness of Children provided a guide that outlined strategies for states, territories and tribes to consider in addressing the needs of students. These strategies ranged from systematic SEL implementation approaches to specific mental health supports.

    Using new data to inform SEL

    The collection and reflection of data that elevates the perspective of students, families and staff can lead to better understanding of these groups’ social-emotional needs and allows for the identification and focus on inequities. Not only should states systematically collect SEL data to make informed decisions, but they should also provide guidance to school districts and programs on how they can collect and use data to ensure their services are highly effective.

    Pandemic-related data uncovered life struggles for students, their families, and staff, such as housing insecurity, lack of technology and broadband access, and health concerns.

    North Carolina’s SEL and Crisis Response website is one example of a state-level resource that offered support on conducting needs assessments and mapping resources as fundamental elements of data-informed support. Basically, it provided districts and schools with assistance in collecting and generating needed data to meet the needs of their communities.

    Leveraging funds for smarter SEL supports

    Funding allows states to more accurately respond to their data and meet the actual SEL needs of their population. Though SEL has been historically supported by federal, state and local funding on some level, recent federal stimulus funding created opportunities for school districts and programs to increase professional development, resource development, and access to needed technology supports.

    The Collaborative for Academic, Social, and Emotional Learning recently shared recommendations on how states can utilize American Rescue Plan Act funding to address SEL through systematic implementation, including promotion of SEL to students, support of adult SEL competencies, and an alignment on SEL efforts across schools, families and communities.

    Through tragedy, the pandemic functioned as an incubator for developing innovative activities and resources, and resulted in unprecedented steps forward for making SEL more accessible and comprehensive.

    As we observe the social and emotional needs of our students as part of International SEL Day, it’s important we take a moment to recognize the significant investments and advances in SEL accessibility amid the crisis and take steps to ensure that the momentum endures.

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  • Odds for mental illness rise in kids after concussion

    Photograph of child lying on the floor with one hand over half of face

    Kids who've suffered a concussion are at heightened risk of mental health issues in the aftermath, a large new study suggests.

    The researchers found that compared with their peers, children and teenagers with a past concussion were 39% more likely to be diagnosed with a mental health condition—including anxiety disorders, depression and behavioral disorders. They were also at greater risk of inflicting self-injuries.

    Experts stressed that most kids with concussions fully recover, and the findings are not cause for alarm.
    Instead, they said, the study underscores the importance of taking concussions seriously and paying attention to kids' mental health afterward.

    "The association between concussion and mental health outcomes is seen in some kids—not all," said lead researcher Andree-Anne Ledoux, of the Children's Hospital of Eastern Ontario Research Institute, in Ottawa, Canada.

    For families, she said, it's important to be aware that mental health problems can arise after a concussion. If they notice any "worrying indicators," Ledoux said, they can talk to their health care provider.

    Doctors, meanwhile, should screen kids for mental health issues during their concussion follow-up care, she added.

    A concussion happens when a blow or jolt to the head makes the brain move rapidly back and forth within the skull. It can cause various immediate symptoms, like headache, confusion, dizziness and a general sense of feeling unwell.

    Most kids with a concussion feel better within a couple of weeks, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. But some have prolonged "post-concussion" symptoms that may last months—including headaches, sleep problems, and difficulty with memory and concentration.

    Studies have also found that kids can suffer from mental health problems, such as depression and anxiety disorders, in the aftermath of a concussion.

    The new findings should bring further attention to those issues, said Talin Babikian, a clinical neuropsychologist at the University of California, Los Angeles.

    Babikian emphasized that when kids have a single, uncomplicated concussion, the injury is usually "time-limited."

    And when they do develop mental health symptoms afterward, she said, it is likely often related to disruptions in their lives: For some kids, having to curtail sports for a while, or be less engaged in their usual activities, can be distressing.

    In some other cases, Babikian noted, kids might have symptoms of post-traumatic stress—if, for example, they sustained the concussion in a car accident.

    She said it's important that families receive accurate information about concussion recovery. That's not only so they know what kinds of symptoms can persist or come up, but also to keep things in perspective.

    Babikian wrote an editorial accompanying the study, which was published online March 7 in JAMA Network Open.

    The findings are based on medical records from nearly 449,000 Ontario children and teens, aged 5 to 18. More than 152,000 had sustained a concussion, while the rest were treated for an orthopedic injury. None had a history of treatment for a mental health condition, or for a previous concussion within the past five years.

    Ledoux's team looked at rates of mental health diagnoses, self-injury, psychiatric hospitalization and suicide in the two groups—anywhere from one month to 10 years after the physical injury.

    The investigators found that, with the exception of suicide, kids with concussions were at relatively higher risk than their peers.

    Around 11% a year were diagnosed with a mental health condition, versus about 8% of kids with orthopedic injuries. Both self-harm and psychiatric hospitalization were much less common, affecting both groups at a rate of less than 1% per year. But again, kids with concussion were at relatively greater risk.

    It can be complicated, Ledoux noted, to distinguish post-concussion symptoms from a new-onset mental health condition. Based on the data they had, her team could not tell whether some kids with a mental health diagnosis might have had post-concussion syndrome.

    The researchers are not sure why only certain kids develop mental health symptoms after a concussion.

    "But," Babikian said, "concussion or not, there are some key ingredients that support kids' mental health."

    One, she said, is having a sense of safety and "agency," while another is a feeling of belonging and engagement with peers. It's important, Babikian said, to help kids safely get back to their normal routines after a concussion, to avoid withdrawal or "deconditioning."

    And given the importance of social engagement and exercise, no one is saying kids should be kept out of sports or physical activities in the name of concussion prevention.

    "We need to take concussions seriously," Babikian said. "But that needs to be balanced by recognizing the benefits of engagement with life."

    More information: Andrée-Anne Ledoux et al, Risk of Mental Health Problems in Children and Youths Following Concussion, JAMA Network Open (2022). DOI: 10.1001/jamanetworkopen.2022.1235

    Talin Babikian, Contextual Considerations for the Increased Risk of Mental Health Problems Following Concussion in Youth, JAMA Network Open (2022). DOI: 10.1001/jamanetworkopen.2022.1242

    The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has more on preventing and managing concussion.

    © 2022 HealthDay. All rights reserved.

    Citation: Odds for mental illness rise in kids after concussion (2022, March 9) retrieved 9 March 2022 from

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  • Pearson and Multi-Health Systems Announce Product Transfer Agreement

    Illustration of clapping hands

    Our entire Pearson Assessment team upholds a commitment to ensuring our portfolio of assessments is aligned with the needs of our customers. To that end, we are happy to announce that Pearson and Multi-Health Systems, Inc. (MHS) have entered into an agreement to transfer ownership and distribution of a few select products. 

    Effective immediately, MHS will transfer ownership of their “Positive and Negative Syndrome Scale” (PANSS) and “Profile of Mood States” (POMS) products to Pearson. In exchange, Pearson will transfer ownership to MHS of the Stanford Achievement Test, 10th Edition (SAT10), Otis-Lennon School Ability Test, 8th Edition (OLSAT-8) and Aprenda® La Prueba de Logros en Español Tercera edición (APR3). Pearson will continue to distribute and provide customer support for these products.

    This partnership ensures the continuity of support for these measures and paves the way for future enhancements while enabling us to continue building a well-rounded family of assessments. We are grateful for the trust you place in us to provide the relevant products and support you rely on as you help those in your care achieve their goals.

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  • Meet Rashonda Harris, Customer Experience Specialist — US Customer Service Team

    Meet Rashonda Harris, Customer Experience Specialist

    “Making someone’s life easier starts with a smile.”

    Rashonda Harris doesn’t view her customers as “just another voice on the phone”. She sees each interaction as a chance to connect with her customers, discover their needs, and find the best way to help them — all with a smile. In her opinion, “When you’re the first person a customer speaks to, you’re the ‘face’ of the company and it’s important to make them feel welcome. A smile is contagious; people can’t help but smile back. Even in a remote environment, people can feel a smile... they can hear it in your voice.” Rashonda is the kind of person you want to work with, bringing excellent customer service, tenacity, courtesy, poise, friendliness, and boundless energy to our clients as well as her teammates.

    With that being said, she brings more than a smile to her role. Focusing on her customers’ satisfaction brings out the best in Rashonda, highlighting her resourcefulness, humility, and perpetual willingness to listen and research in order to find the best possible solution for each of the customers she interacts with. Rashonda brings out the best in other people as well, and never hesitates to put the customer’s needs and feelings before her own.  

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  • Meet Ellen Veazie, Customer Experience Specialist – US customer service team

    Ellen Veazie, Customer Experience Specialist – US customer service team

    The innovator

    Ellen constantly challenges herself and is always learning.

    Ellen was thinking outside the box before thinking outside the box was cool. In her career as a teacher, she was one of three educators in the state of Louisiana who earned an award from the Senator. Through her leadership, Ellen’s students developed a school-based enterprise — the complete business model through marketing and advertising. The coffee shop they “built” gained local fame and was recognized by politicians and other officials who were proud to hold their meetings there to show off what the students had accomplished.

    An avid DIY-er, Ellen knows how great it feels to do things herself. She enjoys planting seeds in her organic garden and watching them grow, then from that harvest, creating a meal. She also turned one of her hobbies into a business on Etsy. Ellen believes in the adage “bloom where you’re planted” and uses that as her guidepost. Every day she strives to do her best, take advantage of opportunities when they come her way, and from those opportunities, continues to bloom.

    The advocate

    Helping you find the best in those you serve.

    After she earned her Master’s in guidance and counseling, Ellen became committed to learning how to use the assessments that could help her identify the needs of her students. She soon realized that without these invaluable tools, it’s not always apparent that an adolescent is struggling with depression or a low self-concept... or not performing to their full potential.

    Today, Ellen gets to enjoy the best of both worlds by assisting customers just like you with discovering the value of assessment. She can relate to what you’re ordering and knows how assessment can help you best serve your students and clients.

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  • Have you registered for Science to Practice?

    by Kristina Breaux, PhD, Senior Research Director

    Kristina Breaux, PhD

    Full disclosure: Yes, I will be presenting at S2P 2021, LDA’s inaugural Science to Practice virtual conference January 21–24, 2021. That being said, even if I weren’t presenting, this event would be on my short list of conferences to attend.

    Here’s why...

    S2P is laser focused on research and practice.

    An entire conference — not just a track — dedicated to LD research and practice! This defined area of focus allows us to go so much deeper into the issues, and as an added bonus, S2P isn’t afraid to address the controversies! As a researcher, I’m so excited to participate in a conference that will address issues from all sides.

    It’s THE who’s who in SLD identification — all together at one conference!

    What other conference allows you to hear from LD experts like H. Lee Swanson and Doug Fuchs? I’ve been in this field for a long time and I’d typically have to attend multiple conferences to have access to all these experts!

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  • Behind the scenes with fellow SLP, Nancy Castilleja

    Nancy Castilleja, SLP

    Nancy, a fellow speech-language pathologist, worked in clinical practice for many years before coming to Pearson. She didn't simply happen upon her career as an SLP. Perhaps like you, Nancy’s interest in following a path to help people with communication disorders was sparked by her experiences with some very special people in her life.

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