Social, Academic and Personal Learning Framework (SAPL)

The New Canaan Public Schools is grounded in a commitment to educate and develop the whole child; just as we develop the academic competence and confidence of students, so too do we work to cultivate the student skills that lead to the development of capable, confident individuals and citizens. Mathematics and reading each have their own continuum of thinking and process skills that over time lead to advanced understandings and problem solving capabilities. The SAPL Framework is akin to these in that it is a research based document that depicts the continuum of development children and teens go through as they grow in and across domains of social, academic and personal learning.  By having such a Framework we are able to bring a consistent lens to how we look at and support a students’ development over time. This tool is  intended to communicate to teachers and parents the progression of understandings and skills that educators and child developers identify as relatively foundational, knowing that children vary greatly in their development and that this not prescriptive but rather instructive in planning for and responding to student needs. It is content neutral and reflects the 21st century competences and the college and career ready standards underlying Common Core and other performance standards.

Although many districts choose to purchase a program to teach social skills or address behavior, New Canaan, consistent with how we approach all of our disciplines, chose not to go with any set program. Instead, we elected to develop a Framework to inform professional learning and to examine how we provide consistent experiences to support student growth along a continuum toward the goal of graduating students’ as capable, confident and caring 21st century learners and global citizens. 

The Social Academic Personal Learning Framework as a continuum was developed initially in order to address the Response to Intervention mandate that asks districts to attend to both the academic and behavioral aspects of a child’s learning.  Subsequently, the state department of education mandated other practices that are related to social, emotional learning. Although not SAPL initiated per se, there are connections because of the nature of the mandates. One set of practice requirements are outlined in the Act Strengthening School Bullying Laws; the other requirements are grounded in Secondary School Reform and the development of Student Success Plans for all students grade 6 - 12. A bit of additional information is provided below on each of these.

Our work relative to Social, Academic and Personal Learning is in the early phases, in that we are now examining ways in which we can use the Framework through professional development to bring more coherence and consistency to activities and lessons that align with these understandings and skills. We are also looking at how we partner with families as we work together toward our long term goal of developing independent, competent, confident, caring and courageous global citizens.


Connecticut’s framework for Response to Intervention requires “high-quality core general education practices, as well as targeted interventions for students experiencing learning, social-emotional or behavioral difficulties. Core general education practices include comprehensive curriculums in key academic areas, effective instructional strategies, creation and maintenance of a positive and safe school climate, and a comprehensive system of social-emotional learning and behavioral supports”.

Language in P.A. 11-232 An Act Concerning the Strengthening of School Bullying Laws states that “prevention and intervention strategy may include, but is not limited to, (1) implementation of a positive behavioral interventions and supports process or another evidence-based model approach for safe school climate or for the prevention of bullying identified by the Department of Education …(4)inclusion of grade-appropriate bullying education and prevention curricula in kindergarten through high school … (6) school-wide training related to safe school climate (7) student peer training, education and support…

The state website defines it as follows. “The Student Success Plan (SSP) is an individualized student driven plan that will be developed to address every student’s needs and interests to help every student stay connected in school and to achieve postsecondary educational and career goals. The SSP will begin in the 6th grade and continue through high school to provide the student support and assistance in setting goals for social, emotional, physical and academic growth, meeting rigorous high school expectations, and exploring postsecondary education and career interests. The Student Success Plan and supporting structures such as student portfolios and academic/personal records should be electronic and portable following the student from school to school and district to district.”

East School artwork of happy butterfly in bright colors.
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