Research and Evidence
High-quality social emotional learning gives kids the skills they need to succeed in school and in life.
From the beginning, we have been committed to collecting data and engaging in research to ensure we are having a measurable impact on the kids we serve. External studies comparing WINGS kids to children at the same school who did not participate in our program show that the skills we teach at WINGS results in:
- Greater Executive Function
- Greater Academic Achievement
- Improved School Attendance
- Increased Self-Esteem
- Increased Attachment to School
- Improved Classroom Behavior
Our Most Challenging Research to Date
The Gold Standard in Evaluation: Randomized Control Trial (RCT)
Our most rigorous evaluation to date started in 2012 when we became the subject of a comprehensive four-year study to evaluate the impact of our program model. The study was aimed at using our theory of change to test whether or not we were in fact having an effect on children’s social emotional skills and behavior. The study was conducted by University of Virginia’s Center for Advanced Study of Teaching and Learning, College of Charleston, and Child Trends.
The study was a three-cohort, block randomized control trial at four school sites, in which entering kindergarten students were randomly assigned to 24 implementation blocks characterized by school, cohort, and gender.
The research answered questions related to impact of the WINGS program on children’s relationships, behaviors, and person-centered competencies.The evaluation also collected an exploratory set of building block measures of early cognitive and emotional skills to better understand the underlying developmental mechanisms leading to the outcomes.
A parallel implementation and improvement study was designed to assess the context in which WINGS operates, the quality of program operations during the impact study data collection period, and to identify ways that the program could be improved.
The results of the study showed the following positive effects on the children who participated in WINGS for two years compared to the children who were not assigned to WINGS:
Improved Cognitive Development
- Executive function
Greater Academic Skills
- Naming vocabulary
- Letter-word ID
Positive Classroom Behavior
- Less hyperactivity and bullying
Multiple teacher rated measures showed broad pattern of:
- Reduced negative behavior
- Improved quality of relationship with teachers
The implementation aspect of this study showed that the adult social emotional skills are essential to delivering a program that results in measurable child outcomes. The range of skills required of front-line staff is fairly broad—making upfront professional development an important element of success. At WINGS, the site leadership drives the enthusiasm and energy needed to create a positive climate and keep children active and engaged. All staff must provide a kind and calm adult presence skilled in behavior management, problem solving, child engagement, and sensitivity to child dynamics.
We used what we learned from the this study to enhance our professional development of staff, refine the staffing model, and modify learning objectives and activities to accommodate for age difference and high transiency rate of students.
But Don’t Just Take Our Word for It!
An ever growing body of research on social emotional learning supports the powerful impact strong programs can have on kids.
Academic Achievement and Positive Behavior
Afterschool programs that build social and emotional skills measured significant improvement in grades, test scores, attachment to school and positive social behaviors. They also reduced problem behaviors – aggression, non-compliance and misconduct – as well as drug use.2
Attachment to School
Evidence suggests a correlation between frequent attendance in [after school] activities and positive outcomes including an increase in academic achievement, school attendance, time spent on homework, enjoyment and effort in school, and better student behavior.3
College and Career Readiness
Social emotional skills help children successfully navigate the learning environment, making it more likely they will graduate from both high school and college. With a higher education, people are more likely to get jobs, and jobs with higher salaries, benefiting individuals and society.1
- 54% more likely to earn a high school diploma
- Twice as likely to attain a college degree
- 46% more likely to have a full-time job
Health, Delinquency, and Crime
Strong social emotional skills help people lead healthy lives and avoid risky behavior that could contribute to physical and mental health problems, substance abuse, delinquency, and crime.1
1Jones, D., Crowley, D., Greenberg, M. (2017). Improving social emotional skills in childhood enhances long-term well-being and economic outcomes. The Pennsylvania State University. www.rwjf.org
2 Durlak, J.A., & Weissberg, R.P. (2007). The impact of afterschool programs that promote personal and social skills. www.casel.org
3 American Youth Policy Forum (2006). Helping youth succeed through out-of-school-time programs. www.aypf.org