Schools explore the best ways to gauge SEL skills
- New assessments of social-emotional learning (SEL) skills offer schools a variety of ways to measure student progress and provide school districts with valuable feedback regarding the strength of their SEL programs, what changes need to be made to adapt to the needs of students, and which students are more likely to need support to graduate, District Administration reports.
- Three current options are the Devereux Students Strengths Assessment, which is emerging as a leader in SEL assessment; Panorama’s assessment, which offers more student voice in the process; and a free, open-source option called Social and Emotional Competency Assessments, which was created by the Washoe County School District in Nevada.
- These assessments can assist schools in helping students develop the skills that can translate into better test scores, attendance rates, behavior, and graduation rates, and provide valuable information for teachers and parents. However, experts warn against using these in any high-stakes fashion to judge teacher or school effectiveness.
In the current data-driven educational climate, academic subjects, such as math and science, are more easily and reliably assessed, while social-emotional skills and growth are not as easily measured. In the past these areas have largely been assessed with parent and teacher checklists and observations.
Finding SEL assessments that provide valuable feedback and measurable data is a challenge. The value of an SEL program can be considered in the context of other indicators, such as attendance, behavior, academic achievement and graduation rates. These comparisons often reveal how student attitudes and responses impact the way the student performs in other areas of academic life.
SEL assessments also offer valuable feedback to teachers that allow them to craft their own responses to students in better ways. Schools can use the information to determine what changes need to be made to SEL programs or the ways they are implemented. And parents are often interested in the information as well so they can support their children's social-emotional development at home.
- District Administration SEL checkups at school