SCUSD’s ‘Whole Child’ education emphasizes 21st century skills
Preparing every child for careers and college

e-Connections Post

Success in school depends on more than just the ability to bubble in blanks with a No. 2 pencil.

To be prepared for college and 21st century careers, students need 21st century skills. They need to be able to think critically, solve problems, communicate well, work with a team, persevere and create.

Sacramento City Unified School District’s “whole child” approach to education is designed to develop and prepare students for the challenges and opportunities of today and tomorrow by addressing students’ comprehensive needs. A whole child approach safeguards that every student:

  • Learns in an environment that is physically and emotionally safe for students and adults
  • Learns about and practices healthy living
  • Is actively engaged in learning and connected to the school and broader community
  • Is challenged academically and prepared for success in college and careers

The Common Core State Standards (CCSS) and Social and Emotional Learning (SEL) are moving SCUSD toward fulfillment of these promises.

Common Core:

Forty-five states have adopted the Common Core State Standards, which were developed under the direction of the National Governors Association (NGA) and the Council of Chief State School Officers (CCSSO).  California’s State Board of Education voted in August 2010 to replace the California Content Standards with CCSS.

SCUSD began implementation of the Common Core English Language Arts standards in 2011 and math standards in the fall of 2012. The standards focus on the high-level thinking skills colleges and employers want. Under the Common Core standards, students will more frequently be asked to research, analyze and create to solve problems and to apply knowledge. In classrooms, our students will be working more often in groups and expressing what they’re learning to demonstrate that they can apply new skills.

Social and Emotional Learning:

SCUSD has received a three-year, $750,000 grant from the NoVo Foundation to incorporate Social and Emotional Learning into classroom instruction and all aspects of school climate and culture. Through instruction and role modeling, SEL helps students learn how to manage their behavior and emotions and cope with challenges. SEL focuses on helping students gain five life skills that researchers agree are essential to success in school:

  • Self-management
  • Self-awareness
  • Responsible decision-making
  • Relationship skills
  • Social awareness

SEL was piloted in 2012-13 at C.K. McClatchy High School, California Middle School, Leataata Floyd Elementary School and Sutterville Elementary School. Sixteen more schools were added to the pilot program in 2013-14. SCUSD is aiming for district-wide SEL implementation in the 2015-16 school year.