Aligned in Anchorage

Framework embeds SEL throughout Alaska district

By Jan Davis
Categories: Social & emotional learning
August 2018
Vol. 39 No. 4
The Anchorage (Alaska) School District has been committed to social and emotional learning (SEL) for the last 30 years. Throughout this time, we have made progress and gone through many changes. Although we had been implementing SEL programs since 1988 and were the first district in the country to adopt SEL standards in 2006, a major turning point in our SEL work came around 2014. Our district had pockets of excellence but lacked an embedded, systematic SEL approach that reached all students effectively. We realized that our SEL efforts needed to become consistent across the district and we needed to focus on a key lever to realize that vision: professional learning for all teachers. Thanks to the support of district leadership and our partnership with

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Jan Davis

Jan Davis ( is an SEL/professional learning specialist in the Anchorage School District in Anchorage, Alaska.


In 2011, CASEL launched the Collaborating Districts Initiative to study and scale a systemic approach to implementing high-quality, evidence‐based academic, social, and emotional learning in large, urban school districts. The original cohort of districts included some of the most complex school systems in the country. As of 2018, the initiative has expanded to 21 partner districts, serving more than 1.7 million students a year.

Partner districts receive consulting and support for a systemic approach to SEL implementation. SEL becomes a way of doing the work, embedded in everything from district strategic plans and budgets to hiring decisions, school climate initiatives, and classroom instruction. School leaders create safe and supportive learning environments.

To support their work, partner districts also engage regularly with each other in a learning community to share implementation strategies, successes, and challenges, and they explore critical questions around SEL implementation such as assessment, equity, adult SEL, and academic integration.

Districts are seeing results. Teachers create classrooms where students are engaged, respected, and empowered — and where they succeed academically. Academic achievement, graduation rates, and attendance are up, suspensions and disciplinary incidents are down, and staff and students are more positive.

Key lessons, strategies, and resources from the initiative are available at

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Categories: Social & emotional learning

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