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Success Stories

A Vision for College-Career Readiness: Social Emotional Learning at Racine Unified

Jenna Buckle
Jenna Buckle
A Vision for College-Career Readiness: Social Emotional Learning at Racine Unified



Racine Unified School DistrictOver the last five years, college and career readiness has been a priority at Racine Unified School District (RUSD). Guided by its North Star Vision, the urban Wisconsin district is committed to ensuring that its 19,000 students—from kindergarten through 12th grade—are on track for college, career, and life readiness. This has meant building developmentally-appropriate social emotional learning (SEL) and life skills from the moment a student steps into a Racine elementary school.

In need of a way to benchmark students’ social and emotional growth over time, RUSD partnered with Panorama. Today, the district uses Panorama's SEL survey to collect student perception data on skills like social awareness, grit, and emotion regulation. Educators can view the results in Panorama by grade level, student, subgroup, and more—helping them allocate supports in the right areas.

"We wanted to move beyond the academics to make sure we're preparing students for college and career readiness, and truly measuring the things that will help students be successful."

Eric Gallien– Eric Gallien, Superintendent, Racine Unified School District

Key Trend: Students in Grades 3-5 Report Low Emotion Regulation Skills 

Racine Social Emotional Learning

Data from RUSD’s Panorama survey showed that Emotion Regulation was an area for growth in elementary schools. “We need to help build those skills in kids,” said Andrea Rittgers, director of student services at RUSD. “If students can regulate their emotions, then they’re going to attend class more and learn more effectively... and academics will improve as well.”

Sample SEL Survey Questions: Emotion Regulation (Grades 3-5)

  • How often are you able to pull yourself out of a bad mood?
  • When everybody around you gets angry, how relaxed can you stay?
  • When things go wrong for you, how calm are you able to stay?

Taking Action: RUSD's Strategies to Improve Emotion Regulation

Based on the data from Panorama, school and district leaders at RUSD implemented the following interventions to help elementary school students better manage their emotions:

  1. Second Step curriculum: RUSD uses Second Step’s social-emotional learning curriculum, which provides educators with tools and resources for teaching skills like emotion regulation in the classroom. 
  2. Character Strong curriculum: RUSD uses Character Strong at the middle school level.
  3. Mindfulness exercises: Students participate in mindfulness practice in every classroom at least once daily, in all grades, using Inner Explorer.
  4. Morning Meeting: RUSD teachers do a "Morning Meeting" with all students in every classroom, grades K-8, each day—offering opportunities for students and teachers to build a sense of community in the classroom and strengthen relationships.
  5. Lunch groups: Using student-level reports from Panorama, educators and counselors identify students who need similar Tier 2 supports around SEL and bring them together for lunch sessions to work on SEL skills.

As RUSD continues its journey to realize the North Star Vision, social emotional learning remains an essential piece of the puzzle. By using SEL data to understand the cause of a student’s behavior or struggles, educators can confidently take action to get each and every student back on track.

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