RULER Approach

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Program description

The RULER Approach, offered by the Yale Center for Emotional Intelligence, provides an organizational approach to SEL. It includes programming for grades K-8 and demonstrates evidence of effectiveness in preK and grades 5 and 6. Staff development resources, RULER tools, and high school curricular content is available in Spanish. All early childhood training, staff development, and classroom instruction content is available in Mandarin.

Strategies supporting educational equity

RULER Approach provides strategies for understanding context, working with bias, and customizing for context. This includes activities that focus on individual, cultural, social, and contextual differences in the experience and expression of emotions. Additionally, educators learn strategies to recognize the emotions of their students and adjust their instructional practices using mood-congruent instruction.

      • Relationship building
      • SEL generalization
      • Systemic support for SEL
      • Adult SEL
      • Group structures
      • Activities and Resources for Home
    • Onsite in-person training
    • Virtual training
    • Offsite training
    • Train the trainer model
    • Administrator support
    • Coaching
    • Technical assistance
    • Professional Learning Communities (PLCs)
    • Online resource library
    • Self-report tools for monitoring implementation
    • Observational tools
    • Tools for measuring student success

Evidence of effectiveness

Results from several randomized control trials and quasi-experimental evaluations supports the effectiveness of the RULER Approach for diverse preschool and elementary school students at decreasing problem behaviors, improving social behaviors, and increasing positive academic behaviors and performance.

Results from a quasi-experimental evaluation conducted in the 2017-2018 school year supported the effectiveness RULER for preschool students. This evaluation included 1,051 pre-kindergarten students in 95 classrooms in the Northeast US (53% Latinx, 22 % white, 17% Black; median family income at the poverty line). Students in classrooms who participated in the program had greater growth in pre-literacy scores skills compared to students in the control group (9 months after baseline, analyses controlled for outcome pretest and a host of relevant demographic covariates).

Results from a quasi-experimental evaluation published in 2012 support the effectiveness of RULER for elementary school students. The evaluation included 273 students in grades 5 and 6 enrolled in 62 private, urban elementary schools in the Northeast US (white = 59%, Latinx = 22%, Asian American = 10%; 7% eligible for FRPL). This evaluation found that students in classrooms who participated in the program had higher teacher-reported adaptability (i.e., social skills, leadership, study skills) and fewer teacher-reported school-based problem behaviors (e.g., attention and learning problems; outcomes reported 7 months after baseline while taking into account outcome pretest). Additionally, students who participated in the program earned higher end-of-year English Language Arts (ELA) and ratings of social conduct compared to students in the comparison group.

Results from the first year of a randomized controlled trial (RCT) published in 2013 support the effectiveness of RULER for elementary school classrooms. This evaluation included 3,824 students in grades 5 and 6 enrolled in 62 private, urban elementary schools in the Northeast US. This evaluation found that grade 5 and 6 classrooms that participated in the program demonstrated greater observer-reported emotional support, which tapped into positive climate and regard for student perspectives, compared to control classrooms (outcomes were reported 1 year after baseline while controlling for outcome pretest). Additionally, teachers participating in the program self-reported more positive interactions with students and including greater student-student interaction opportunities in their teaching compared to control teachers.

  • Evidence shown in grades
    Pre-K, 5, 6
    School characteristics
      • Urban
      • Northeast
    Student characteristics
    • Asian / Asian American
    • Black / African American
    • Hispanic / Latinx
    • White
    • Low income
    Percentage Low Income
    • Not Specified
    Study design type
    • RCT
    Greater than 350 students included in study design type
    • Yes
    Multiple school districts included at study design type
    • Yes
    • Improved academic performance
    • Reduced emotional distress
    • Improved identity development and agency
    • Reduced problem behaviors
    • Improved school climate
    • Improved school connectedness
    • Improved social behaviors
    • Improved teaching practices
    • Improved other SEL skills and attitudes

How does RULER Approach support SEL implementation across multiple settings?

“The goal of RULER is to make the approach an enduring part of a school’s culture. RULER adoption begins with staff professional learning, and continues with classroom instruction and family engagement. RULER provides supports to school communities so that they are able to sustain positive climates where all stakeholders in the school feel empowered.”
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