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INSIGHTS: Examining Effects of Social-Emotional Learning in Early Education on Longer-Term Student Outcomes


INSIGHTS into Children’s Temperament is a school-based intervention that supports students’ social-emotional development during the critical transition into elementary school, with the goal of improving their behaviors, social-emotional well-being, and academic skills. INSIGHTS consists of 10 weekly 30-minute sessions for children, held in their own classrooms, as well as programs for teachers and parents designed to help them recognize children’s temperaments/personalities and use strategies that reduce behavior problems and enhance social skills. Prior research has found that INSIGHTS implemented in kindergarten and first grade has short- and medium-term positive effects on children’s behaviors and academic skills, including improvements in attention, reading, and math. 

About the Study

The Research Alliance is collaborating with MDRC on a study that will examine INSIGHTS’ impact on students’ outcomes in middle and high school, identify for whom and how the program was most effective, and determine the implementation conditions that supported any lasting impacts. The study builds on a randomized controlled trial of 22 schools (11 assigned to INSIGHTS and 11 assigned to a comparison group) conducted in Brooklyn, New York, between 2008 and 2010. The current project is using follow-up data on students from the original trial who are still enrolled in the New York City public school system, to answer three overarching research questions:

  • What is the impact of INSIGHTS on students’ language and math skills in middle and high school?
  • What is the impact of INSIGHTS on students being on-track to graduate high school in 9th grade, passing New York state Regents tests, and successfully finishing high school?
  • What is the impact of INSIGHTS on students’ enrollment in two- and four-year colleges?

The study will also consider a number of exploratory analyses, including testing whether impacts varied by gender, child temperament, and behaviors at kindergarten entry; examining whether impacts were mediated by changes in students’ in-school behaviors in middle and high school; and considering whether implementation fidelity or intervention dosage influenced the extent to which there were any lasting impacts. Taken together, results will provide valuable information about whether and how early investments in social-emotional learning influence students’ long-term success. 


This project is funded by a grant to MDRC from the US Department of Education’s Institute of Education Sciences (award # R305A220174). 

Project Team

James J. Kemple

Erin O'Connor

Meghan McCormick, MDRC (Principal Investigator)