Student Support Services

New York State Social Emotional Learning Benchmarks

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Research suggests that student learning benchmarks (or standards) may increase the likelihood that students will receive better instruction in Social Emotional Learning (SEL), experience improved school connectedness, and become better learners (Osher & Kendziora, 2008 and Jones & Bouffard, 2012).

To enable students to take full advantage of educational opportunities throughout their school experience in grades K-12 and, equally important, to prepare them for college and/or career, the School Climate and Student Engagement Workgroup of the New York State Safe Schools Task Force have identified the following goals to guide SEL benchmarks for New York State schools:

  1. Develop self-awareness and self-management skills essential to success in school and in life.
  2. Use social awareness and interpersonal skills to establish and maintain positive relationships.
  3. Demonstrate ethical decision-making skills and responsible behaviors in personal, school, and community contexts.

In the following pages, these goals are further explained, with associated benchmarks provided for voluntary use at the early elementary (K-3), late elementary (4-5), middle school (6-8), early high school (9-10), and late high school (11-12) levels.

Goal 1:  Develop self-awareness and self-management skills essential to success in school and in life.

Knowing one’s emotions, how to manage them, and ways to express them constructively are essential life skills. These skills enable one to handle stress, control impulses, and motivate oneself to persevere when faced with personal, academic, or work-related obstacles. A related set of skills involves accurately assessing one’s abilities and interests, building upon strengths, making effective use of family, school, and community supports and resources. Finally, it is critical for an individual to be able to establish and monitor one’s own progress toward achieving goals, whether personal, academic, and career or work-related. These social emotional skills, thought processes and behavioral strategies can be contributing factors to one’s sense of self-confidence and sense of optimism as they provide a strong foundation for achieving success in school and in life.

Grade Level

Early Elementary


Late Elementary


Middle School


Early HS


Late HS


A. Identify and manage one’s emotions and behavior.

1A.1a. Recognize and describe emotions and how they are linked to behavior.

1A.1b. Demonstrate control of impulsive behavior.

1A.2a. Describe a range of emotions and the situations that cause them.

1A.2b. Describe and demonstrate ways to express emotions in a constructive manner.

1A.2c. Demonstrate control of behaviors that interfere with time on task.

1A.3a. Analyze factors that create stress or motivate successful performance.

1A.3b. Apply strategies to manage stress and to motivate oneself to constructively address challenges.

1A.3c. Demonstrate the capacity to maintain concentration on a task.

1A.4a. Analyze how thoughts and emotions affect decision making and responsible behavior.

1A.4b. Generate ways to develop more positive attitudes.

1A.4c. Demonstrate the capacity to shift one’s focus between tasks and maintain concentration on one’s goal.

1A.5a. Evaluate how expressing one’s emotions in different situations affects others.

1A.5b. Evaluate how expressing more positive attitudes influences others.

1A.5c. Demonstrate the ability to adjust one’s behavior in response to changes in one’s environment or to changes in one’s goal(s).

B. Recognize personal qualities and external supports.

1B.1a. Describe one’s likes, dislikes, needs, wants, strengths, challenges, and opinions.

1B.1b. Identify family, peer, school, and community strengths and supports.


1B.2a. Describe personal strengths/skills and interests that one wants to develop.

1B.2b. Explain how family members, peers, school personnel, and community members can support responsible behavior and school success.

1B.3a. Analyze   how personal strengths and areas in need of improvement influence choices and outcomes.

1B.3b.  Analyze how making use of school and community supports and opportunities can help one surmount challenges and contribute to achievement in school and in life.

1B.4a. Set priorities that build on strengths and identify areas for improvement.

1B.4b. Analyze how positive adult role models and support systems contribute to personal growth and achievement in school and in life.

1B.5a. Implement a plan to build on a personal strength, meet a personal need, or address a personal challenge.

1B.5b. Implement a plan to build on a personal strength to meet a need, or address a challenge facing one’s community.

1B.5c. Evaluate how developing interests and “giving back”/filling useful roles support school and life success.

C. Demonstrate skills related to achieving personal and academic goals.

1C.1a. Describe why learning is important in helping students achieve personal goals.

1C.1b. Identify goals for personal behavior progress, achievement, or success.

1C.2a. Describe the steps in setting and working toward goal achievement.

1C.2b. Monitor progress on achieving a short-term personal goal.

1C.3a. Set a short-term goal and develop a plan for achieving it.

1C.3b. Analyze why one achieved or did not achieve a goal.

1C.4a. Identify strategies to make use of resources to overcome obstacles to achieve goals.

1C.4b. Apply strategies to overcome obstacles to goal achievement.

1C.5a. Set a post-secondary goal with action steps, timeframes, and criteria for evaluating achievement.

1C.5b. Monitor progress toward achieving a goal and evaluate one’s performance against criteria.


Goal 2: Use social awareness and interpersonal skills to establish and maintain positive relationships.

The ability to recognize the thoughts, feelings, and perspectives of other individuals, including ideas and viewpoints that are different from one’s own, and to empathize with others from diverse backgrounds, is central to forming and maintaining positive relationships at all life stages. Equally important to establishing positive peer, family, and work relationships are strategies and skills that enable one to adapt one’s behavior in various settings, cooperate and collaborate with another person or in a group, communicate respectfully, and constructively resolve conflicts with others.

Grade Level

Early Elementary


Late Elementary


Middle School


Early HS


Late HS


A. Recognize the feelings and perspectives of others.

2A.1a. Recognize that others may experience situations differently from oneself.

2A.1b. Use listening skills to identify the feelings and perspectives of others.

2A.2a. Identify verbal, physical, and situational cues that indicate how others may feel.

2A.2b. Describe the expressed feelings and perspectives of others.

2A.3a. Hypothesize others’ feelings and perspectives in a variety of situations and explain the reasons for one’s conjecture.

2A.3b. Analyze how one’s behavior may affect others.

2A.4a. Analyze similarities and differences between one’s own and others’ perspectives.

2A.4b. Use communication skills to gain understanding of others’ feelings and perspectives.

2A.5a. Demonstrate how to express understanding of those who hold different opinions.

2A.5b. Demonstrate ways to express empathy for others.

B. Recognize individual and group similarities and differences.

2B.1a. Describe the ways that people are similar and different.

2B.1b. Describe positive qualities in others.

2B.2a. Identify differences among, and contributions of, various social and cultural groups.

2B.2b. Demonstrate how to interact positively with those who are different from oneself.

2B.3a. Explain how individual, social, and cultural differences may increase vulnerability to bullying and identify ways to address it.

2B.3b. Analyze the effects of taking action to oppose bullying and/or bias based behavior based on individual and group differences.

2B.4a. Analyze the origins and negative effects of stereotyping and prejudice.

2B.4b. Demonstrate respect for individuals from different social and cultural groups.

2B.5a. Evaluate strategies for being respectful of others and opposing stereotyping and prejudice.

2B.5b. Evaluate how advocacy for the well-being and rights of others contributes to the common good.

C: Use communication and social skills to interact effectively with others.

2C.1a. Identify ways to work and play well with others.

2C.1b. Demonstrate adaptability and appropriate social behavior at school.

2C.2a. Describe approaches for making and keeping friends.

2C.2b. Analyze ways to work effectively in groups.

2C.3a. Analyze ways to establish positive relationships with others.

2C.3b. Demonstrate cooperation and teamwork to promote group effectiveness.

2C.4a. Evaluate the effects of requesting support from and providing support to others.

2C.4b. Evaluate one’s contribution in groups as a member and leader.

2C.5a. Evaluate the application of communication and social skills in daily interactions with peers, teachers, and families.

2C.5b. Plan, implement, and evaluate one’s participation in a group project.

D. Demonstrate the ability to prevent, manage, and resolve interpersonal conflicts in constructive ways.

2D.1a. Identify problems and conflicts commonly experienced by peers.

2D.1b. Identify approaches to resolving conflicts constructively.

2D.2a. Describe causes and consequences of conflicts.

2D.2b. Apply constructive approaches in resolving conflicts.

2D.3a. Evaluate strategies for preventing and resolving interpersonal problems.

2D.3b. Define unhealthy peer pressure and evaluate strategies for resisting it.

2D.4a. Analyze how active listening, “I” statements and other communication strategies help to resolve conflicts.

2D.4b. Analyze how conflict- resolution skills contribute to work within a group.

2D.5a. Evaluate the effects of using collaborative negotiation skills to reach win-win solutions.

2D.5b. Evaluate current conflict-resolution skills and plan how to improve them.


Goal 3:  Demonstrate ethical decision-making skills and responsible behaviors in personal, school, and community contexts.

he ability to make ethical decisions and behave responsibly, taking into account the well-being of others as well as one’s own, are essential to benefitting the good of the whole - whether family, peers, colleagues, neighbors, or members of the community at large. It is the foundation of responsible citizenship in a democratic society. Every individual at all life stages needs the capacity to make ethical decisions and solve problems by accurately defining the decisions to be made, being able to generate alternative solutions, anticipate the consequences of each, and having the ability to evaluate and learn from the outcomes of one’s decision making.

Grade Level

Early Elementary


Late Elementary


Middle School


Early HS


Late HS


A: Consider ethical, safety, and societal factors in making decisions.











3A.1a. Explain why acts that hurt others are wrong.

3A.1b. Identify social norms and safety considerations that guide behavior.

3A.2a. Demonstrate the ability to respect the rights of self and others.

3A.2b. Demonstrate knowledge of how social norms affect decision making and behavior.

3A.3a. Evaluate how honesty, respect, fairness, and compassion enable one to take the needs of others into account when making decisions.

3A.3b. Analyze the reasons for school and societal rules.

3A.4a. Demonstrate personal responsibility in making ethical decisions.

3A.4b. Evaluate how social norms and the expectations of different social groups, including dealing with the expectations of those in authority in various settings, influence personal decisions and actions.

3A.5a. Apply ethical reasoning to evaluate societal practices.

3A.5b. Examine how the norms of different societies and cultures influence their members’ decisions and behaviors.

B: Apply decision- making skills to deal responsibly with daily academic and social situations.

3B.1a. Identify a range of decisions that students make at school and at home.

3B.1b. Make positive choices when interacting with classmates.

3B.2a. Identify and apply the steps of systematic decision making.

3B.2b. Generate alternative solutions and evaluate their consequences for a range of academic and social situations.

3B.3a. Analyze how decision-making skills have an impact on study habits, academic performance, and interpersonal relationships.

3B.3b. Evaluate strategies for resisting pressures to engage in unsafe or unethical activities.

3B.4a. Evaluate one’s personal abilities to gather information, generate possible solutions, and anticipate the consequences of decisions.

3B.4b. Apply decision- making skills to establish responsible interpersonal and intergroup relationships, and work relationships.

3B.5a. Analyze how present decision-making affects college and career choices.

3B.5b. Evaluate how responsible decision making affects interpersonal and group relationships.

C. Contribute to the well-being of one’s school and community.

3C.1a. Identify and perform roles that contribute to one’s classroom.

3C.1b. Identify and perform roles that contribute to one’s family.

3C.2a. Identify and perform roles that contribute to the school community.

3C.2b.Identify and perform roles that contribute to one’s local community.

3C.3a. Evaluate one’s participation in efforts to address an identified school need.

3C.3b. Evaluate one’s participation in efforts to address an identified need in one’s local community.

3C.4a. Plan, implement, and evaluate one’s participation in activities and organizations that improve school culture and climate.

3C.4b. Plan, implement, and evaluate one’s participation in a group effort to contribute to one’s local community.

3C.5a. Work cooperatively with others to plan, implement, and evaluate a project to meet an identified school need.

3C.5b. Work cooperatively with others to plan, implement, and evaluate a project that addresses an identified need in the broader community.


Last Updated: June 8, 2022