U.S. flag

An official website of the United States government, Department of Justice.

SEL in Context: School Mobility and Social-Emotional Learning Trajectories in a Low-Income, Urban School District

NCJ Number
Education and Urban Society Dated: August 17, 2022
Date Published

This article examines if, and how, social-emotional competency trajectories change after students transfer schools compared to before changing schools, and if circumstances surrounding school changes are associated with differences in SEL trajectories; the authors lay out the theoretical framework for their research, their methodology, and research outcomes.


Social-emotional competencies (SECs) stand to benefit children in a myriad of ways. However, school-based social-emotional learning (SEL) programs are often ineffective in low-income, urban school districts, calling into question whether they adequately address student needs. The present study investigated whether and how one source of stress more common in these communities—school mobility—impacted SEL for predominantly African American students living in a low-income, urban district. Using a series of multi-level growth models, the authors found that school mobility was only detrimental (on average) under certain circumstances—for example, when students moved to schools with worse relative levels of school safety. These findings suggest that SEL programs should address school climate and safety in addition to individual-level competencies. Publisher Abstract Provided

Date Published: January 1, 2022