New Jersey First in Nation to Provide Educators with Social and Emotional Framework tied to Arts Education

WARREN, N.J. – With the June 3 adoption of the 2020 New Jersey Student Learning Standard for Visual and Performing Arts (NJSLS-VPA) by the New Jersey State Board of Education, heightened attention is now being given by key stakeholders to the positive impact arts education has on Social and Emotional Learning (SEL) among public-school students.

With the unveiling this month of The Arts Education & Social and Emotional Learning Framework, New Jersey is now the first state in the nation to provide a formal roadmap illustrating how the arts foster, and often amplify SEL components, and more importantly, how educators can effectively embed SEL into their arts curriculum.

Districts across New Jersey are required by law to revise their own curricula to come into alignment with these new arts education standards by September of 2022. By embracing this approach, schools and districts will accelerate the incorporation of SEL into the curriculum during the revision process in a way that will underscore the inherent nature of SEL within the arts.

“The Arts Education & Social and Emotional Learning Framework shows beyond any doubt that arts education provides students with opportunities to exercise their SEL skills,” stated Dr. Maurice Elias, professor of psychology at Rutgers University and director of the Rutgers Social-Emotional and Character Development Lab who served as a co-chair of the SEL and Arts Education Taskforce that developed the framework.

“And as students exercise their SEL skills, they reach and meet Arts standards in a deeper, more integrated way than they otherwise would. This website is a must-bookmark for anyone concerned with arts education or SEL, or the well-being of our students!”

The new SEL Framework will be a key topic of discussion at Arts Ed Summit 2020, a virtual event to be held June 16-18 featuring presentations by leaders from the state’s top education associations, as well as SEL and discipline-based organizations.

Social-Emotional Learning is a process being prioritized across the globe intended to provide students with the knowledge, attitude and skills needed to understand and manage emotions, to confront challenges and make responsible decisions by being self-aware, socially aware and confident—in essence, preventative mental healthcare.

The arts, by their very nature, are both social and emotional, and serve to enliven and activate SEL components, which in turn, make arts education a catalyst for students social and emotional development. And because of the social and emotional nature of the arts, students are able to engage in learning experiences enable them to explore and develop with it in a deeper and more meaningful way.

While core competencies for SEL had been adopted by New Jersey in 2017, the SEL and Arts Education Taskforce convened by SEL4NJ and Arts Ed NJ, dedicated 18 months to create a framework designed to illuminate the intersection between arts education and social-emotional learning. The goal was to define a framework intent on embedding SEL into arts instruction, allowing for the intentional application of impactful teaching and learning strategies, with the overarching goal of enhancing arts education.

As New Jersey moves towards the implementation of the newly adopted Student Learning Standards in the Visual and Performing Arts Standards, the Arts Education & Social and Emotional Learning Framework becomes a critical resource. 

This will be front and center when schools reconvene this fall, as teachers must develop new strategies for teaching and learning to address the level of student trauma and loss brought on by the COVID-19 pandemic.

As arts educators revise their curriculum, connecting the new arts standards to SEL competencies, they will be able to do so with an eye towards embedding SEL in arts education. At the same time, they will be able to more effectively articulate to administrators how the arts foster conditions for social emotional learning in their students.

The Arts Education & Social and Emotional Learning Framework represents something that has never been done before: harnessing the superpower within arts education,” said Robert Morrison, Director of Arts Ed NJ and co-chair of the SEL and Arts Education Taskforce. “This SEL Framework document builds off the standards, but takes them to an entirely new level, defining the power of arts education to have a positive impact on the social-emotional learning of our students. We are prepared with the tools to make our arts educators leaders in that space. After all, where do students express themselves best? In the arts.”

For more information about the Arts Education and Social and Emotional (SEL) Framework, visit For more information about the 2020 New Jersey Student Learning Standard for Visual and Performing Arts, visit

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