Our Mission

TransformEd partners with school systems to support educators in fostering the development of the whole child so that all students, particularly those from underserved populations, can thrive.

Our Vision

At Transforming Education, we envision a future in which all students become thriving adults, able and empowered to lead personally meaningful lives and to contribute to their communities.

Our learning agenda

As we work with educators, we draw from research, best practice, and the input of diverse stakeholders then apply and share what we’re learning around three key questions, which comprise our learning agenda:

  1. How can the practices, systems, structures, and environment of a school foster students’ social-emotional development?
  2. How can researchers and practitioners learn from one another in order to accelerate improvements in student outcomes?
  3. What are the most effective ways to prompt a paradigm shift towards schools developing the whole child?

Why We Do What We Do

A whole child focus matters for success in school, college, career, and life.

  • Research has shown that social-emotional competencies predict high school and college completion, and that students with strong skills in social-emotional areas have greater academic achievement within K-12 and college.[1]
  • Employer surveys show that modern organizations are seeking job applicants with stronger social-emotional and relational competencies, such as communication skills and the ability to work productively in groups.[2]
  • Further, studies have demonstrated that stronger social-emotional skills are correlated with such long-term life outcomes as higher employment rates and wages, and lower rates of substance abuse, obesity, and criminal activity.[3]
  • Ultimately, social-emotional competencies matter not only for individual success in school and work, but also for our ability to be good citizens and neighbors, to contribute to our communities, and to sustain a flourishing democracy.

Educators value social-emotional competencies, and school systems dedicate significant resources to advancing these skills.

  • A national survey of teachers in 2013 confirmed that the vast majority (93%) of teachers believe that these skills are important. 95% believe they are teachable, and 88% of teachers reported that their school already has some form of social-emotional learning programming underway.
  • TransformEd recently conducted a follow-up study to understand what that means in terms of the time and money that are already being expended to help students develop these skills.  We learned that approximately $640M are spent each year in US K-12 public schools on specific programming and practices to build students’ social-emotional competencies.
  • In addition to those direct costs, teachers report they spend about 10% of their time on this, which on an allocated basis translates to an estimated $30B per year in teacher time.

We need to systematically collect data on whole child development to understand which approaches are working, where to allocate resources, and how best to target supports for students.

  • Despite both compelling research and broad support from educators, whole child development has not become a central driver in education policy. We believe that must change.
  • Consistent, formative assessment of students’ social-emotional competencies can empower educators to identify students who need more support, gauge the impact of practices that aim to help students develop these competencies, and address issues of equity by asking whether those practices are working equally well for all students.
  • We believe that bringing a data-informed approach to this work can accelerate our progress as a field, ultimately helping young people develop the skills they need to thrive as individuals and to contribute to a flourishing society.

What Educators Are Saying[4]

Estimated Annual Spending on SEL

Our Core Values


We know that social-emotional competencies matter for students’ success in college, career, and life. We believe that it is possible to change education systems so that all students have opportunities to develop social-emotional competencies and academic skills in school.


We recognize that every student has social-emotional competencies that can be developed further. We believe that all students deserve access to the tools, strategies, and resources that can help them to develop as whole people.


We step up when high-leverage opportunities arise and take strategic risks in service of our mission. We work with urgency to help students succeed now while also recognizing that meaningful change may take time.


We develop evidence-based hypotheses about the most effective ways to measure and develop social-emotional competencies. We use data to test these hypotheses, and we course-correct as needed based on our findings.


We amplify our impact by partnering with diverse organizations and individuals who have demonstrated expertise in research, policy, and practice. We model social-emotional competencies in our collaborative work with others.

[1] See Chris Gabrieli, Dana Ansel, and Sara Bartolino Krachman, “Ready To Be Counted: The Research Case for Education Policy Action on Non-Cognitive Skills,” December 2015
[2] The Mass INC. Polling Group (2016). Mass. business leaders focus on real world skills, good teachers. Boston. MA. http://www.mbae.org/wp-content/uploads/2016/11/FINAL-Report-2016-MBAE-Employer-Poll-for-web.pdf (accessed March 13, 2017); see also: Casner-Lotto, J. & Barrington, L. (2006) Are they really ready to work? Employers’ perspectives on the basic knowledge and applied skills of new entrants to the 21st century us workforce. Partnership for 21st Century Skills; Northeastern University (2014). Topline report, telephone survey conducted February 3-9: Business elite national poll, 3rd installment of the innovation imperative polling series.
[3] Heckman, Stixrud, Urzua (2006) The Effects of Cognitive and Noncognitive Abilities on Labor Market Outcomes and Social Behavior; Moffit, et al. (2011) A gradient of childhood self-control predicts health, wealth, and public safety; Jones, Greenberg, & Crowley (2015). Early social-emotional functioning and public health: The relationship between kindergarten social competence and future wellness. American Journal of Public Health 105(11), 2283–2290. Farrington et al. (2012) Teaching adolescents to become learners — The role of noncognitive factors in shaping school performance: A critical literature review. Consortium on Chicago School Research; Dweck, Walton & Cohen (2011) Academic Tenacity: Mindsets and Skills that Promote Long-Term Learning
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