Positive shifts in school climate

RULER improves school climate by enhancing teacher instruction and increasing student engagement. In one study, we examined fifth- and sixth-grade classrooms that had been implementing RULER for 1 year and then again after 2 years. Independent observers, who were blind to which classrooms did and did not have RULER, rated RULER and non-RULER classrooms on the quality of their climates. They rated RULER classrooms, as compared to non-RULER classrooms, as having more emotional support after both the 1- and 2-year marks and better instruction and classroom organization after 2 years. Another study exploring the source of these shifts found that increased student engagement was the key to these positive shifts in climate.

Enhanced academic performance

Students who receive RULER perform better academically, particularly in English language arts and in their work habits. In one study of fifth and sixth graders, students in classrooms randomly assigned to receive RULER had better grades at the end of one year than students in classrooms that did not have RULER. Specifically, students in RULER classrooms earned significantly higher grades in English language arts and were rated by their teachers as having better work habits and conduct as compared to students in classrooms without RULER.

Better quality relationships

RULER is designed to improve student connectedness by strengthening student bonds with their peers, enhancing their engagement in learning, and supporting their relationships with teachers. Research under review shows that early adolescent students who reported significantly lower connectedness with teachers (in comparison to their peers) scored significantly lower on all adaptive indicators and significantly higher on maladaptive indicators in comparison to students who reported high and average levels of connectedness. These findings both contribute to the growing literature focused on the importance of promoting feelings of connectedness in adolescents and support school adoption of RULER to help students feel more connected.

Less bullying and aggressive behavior

In one study from 2012 and in a more recent study from 2019, we examined the impact of RULER on student conduct. We found that students in schools implementing RULER, as compared to students in schools without RULER, demonstrate less bullying and aggressive behavior after one year of RULER. These effects last into the second year of RULER rollout.

  • RULER can change your school culture. It brings people together with that common language around how we're going to treat each other. And, what I like most about RULER is that it is a collective kind of approach...because we really do have choices, and we really do affect each other.

    Dawn Brooks-Decosta, Principal
  • I have always felt that you cannot get to the academic component of children unless you worry about the emotional well-being of children. RULER just fits right in with my belief system as an educator. I have seen it impact so many lives.

    LeAnn Cassidy, Teacher
  • In the schools that are using RULER, students are having better conversations with each other, are able to be more creative because they have environments that are risk free with adults who are encouraging their learning development.

    Dolores Esposito, Executive Superintendent of Leadership
  • When you learn to use these skills to validate the way someone else is feeling or to reflect upon yourself...that naturally promotes a kinder and more loving relationship with people. It gives us the opportunity to create an existence in which we are treating each other with respect and compassion and empathy.

    Judy Palmer, Superintendent