Atlanta Public Schools Implemented CASEL’s Social-Emotional Learning In Response to Cheating Scandal


Atlanta Public Schools in Atlanta, Georgia, started social-emotional learning in 2015 in response to the 2011 cheating scandal in which school staff artificially boosted standardized test scores.  

The Collaborative for Academic, Social, and Emotional Learning’s (CASEL) website features a 5-page document, published in April 2022 titled,” “Creating a Caring Culture Through SEL,” outlining Atlanta Public Schools’ reasons, processes, and outcomes for implementing social-emotional learning-including a 2015-2018 timeline.  

The district even has a Director of SEL, several SEL coordinators and an SEL coach.

Below are some of the initiatives CASEL’s social-emotional learning initiative developed for Atlanta Public Schools.

The office of safety and security created a three-day foundational training on restorative practices that includes SEL competencies for all school resources officers (SROs) during their first 6 to 12 months on the job. The training was led by the Institute of Restorative Practices (IIRP).

“Equity and social justice” were made priorities. In 2021 Atlanta Public Schools opened the Center for Equity and Social Justice”  whose focus is, as the name suggests, equity. Their website states, “With Equity at the Forefront, we can ensure equity and excellence for everyone.” The website continues, “The goal of equity is achieved when we have broken the historical patterns of inequity that have resulted in far too few of our students succeeding at high levels.” 

Atlanta Public Schools includes 87 public schools and 51,012 students. 35% of students are proficient in math and 38% are proficient in reading.