• How much do schools and educators impact students’ social-emotional learning?

    By: Libby Pier (Education Analytics) & Heather Hough (Policy Analysis for California Education) In 2014, the CORE Districts—a consortium of eight of the largest school districts in California serving more than one million students—began measuring students’ social-emotional learning (SEL) as part of a No Child Left Behind (NCLB) waiver enabling CORE to develop a holistic school quality measurement system. In collaboration with researchers and SEL content experts, CORE curated items to measure four social-emotional competencies: growth mindset, self-efficacy, self-management, and social awareness. Although the passage of the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA) nullified the NCLB waiver, CORE has continued to measure students’ SEL annually since 2014 and reports school-level averages for informational purposes. Before CORE began administering annual SEL surveys […]

  • My Lessons Learned Working with a Diverse Set of School Leaders Deeply Committed to Taking a Data-Informed Approach to Whole Child Development

    By: DJ Cervantes Since 2016, Transforming Education has worked closely with NewSchools Venture Fund to collaborate with a growing portfolio of innovative school leaders across the nation. This collaboration supports the efforts of these schools in expanding the definition of student success by integrating an intentional and data-informed focus on the mindsets, habits, and skills needed for success in college, career, and life as well as the positive school environment conditions that promote them. Collectively, it is our belief that when these skills and conditions are coupled with strong academic outcomes, students are better positioned to graduate from high school prepared and inspired to lead a good life full of opportunity, connections, choices, and meaning.  A core element in this pursuit […]

  • New Report Examines State of SEL Assessments, Calls for Greater Coordination with School Policies, Programs, and Professional Learning

    A leading group of scholars, test developers, and educators has just released a landmark report that describes the evolving field of social and emotional learning (SEL) assessments and recommends steps for continued improvements.   The 53-page report, Student Social and Emotional Competence Assessment: The Current State of the Field and a Vision for Its Future, was developed over the past three years by the Assessment Work Group, managed by CASEL with leaders from the RAND Corporation, Harvard University, the California CORE Districts, Transforming Education, xSEL Labs, and several universities, nonprofit organizations, and school districts across the country. Clark McKown served as the lead author.   Key findings include: Social and emotional competencies can not only be taught—they can also be measured. […]

  • Assessing SEL in School-Community Partnerships

    By: Saskia Traill, Senior Vice President, ExpandED Schools ExpandED Schools helps schools and partnering after-school providers create a shared vision for working with young people. The schools and community-based organizations (CBOs) bring together their resources and expertise to give youth more opportunities to develop their talents and develop as a whole child—including socially, emotionally and academically. The result is a holistic and coherent learning day with a range of educators, including certified teachers, teaching artists, and youth development professionals. Over the past three years, with a generous grant from the New York Life Foundation, we focused on the depth and integration of SEL to reach all young people in participating middle schools along with their after-school providers. We found that a more intentional […]

  • Nyack Public Schools Use Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Survey to Move Our Equity Agenda Forward

    By: James Montesano, Nyack Public Schools, with Sara Stoutland, Independent Consultant   The Nyack Public Schools have been working to close achievement gaps for years. We are a racially, ethnically, and socioeconomically diverse district, located about 30 miles north of New York City. As a community, we are proud of our diversity, and we are also deeply troubled by persistent racial and socioeconomic achievement gaps. We have disproportionate outcomes by race/ethnicity and socio-economic status in AP classes, suspensions, and special education identification.   In the past, we addressed these gaps by establishing targeted programs aimed at students who were not performing up to their potential— students of color and those from low-income backgrounds. Through these efforts, we saw some improvement in graduation […]

  • SEL Learning Through a Continuous Improvement Cycle

    By: Stan Masters, Coordinator of Instructional Data Services, Lenawee ISD, Adrian, MI   How could a continuous improvement process for social-emotional learning (SEL) increase measurable educational outcomes for students?  That was the question asked by the Lenawee Cradle to Career Partnership when it began utilizing the CASEL Framework with schools throughout Lenawee County, Michigan.   Working with the superintendents and local community partners, the partnership utilized resources from CASEL and Panorama Education, to implement a Plan-Do-Study-Act (PDSA) cycle, a scientific method used when engaged in action-oriented learning.   New work targeted to student SEL started at a small scale:  one school with students from three grades.  The school had seen an increase in inappropriate student behaviors and believed that more direct […]

  • Two For One: Using Our Academic Assessment Practices to Measure SEL

    By: Rose Pennington, Institute of Positive Psychology and Education   Having spent last year out of the classroom and devoted to my PhD studies, I am loving being back with students (albeit three days a week) because I can apply much of what I have been studying to my practice, to see how it looks like ‘in real life.’ Given that my thesis is examining the ways in which teachers can promote both academic potential and social and emotional skills, I have been considering whether the strategies touted for academic assessment would also serve to measure the social and emotional competencies I want my students to demonstrate.   At my school there is a targeted focus this year on formative […]

  • Austin’s Experience Using Multiple Measures of SEL

    By Lindsay Lamb, Program Evaluation Coordinator, Austin Independent School District   Measures of students’ SEL competence can be used alongside other data to support decisions around program implementation. Currently, the Austin Independent School District’s (AISD) Department of Research and Evaluation (DRE) uses multiple measures to assess effective SEL implementation, including an SEL Implementation Survey; AISD Student Climate Survey; Teaching Empowering, Leading, Learning (TELL) AISD Staff Climate Survey; Family Survey; PK-6th grade students’ personal development skills (report card ratings); and academic performance, attendance, and discipline data. Elementary school teachers’ assessment of their students’ SEL skills Every 9 weeks, teachers assess the frequency with which their PK-6th grade students engage in SEL-related skills using the personal development skills report card ratings. These ratings are […]

  • How Student SEL Competence Assessment Can Improve Teaching and Learning

    By: Clark McKown, xSEL Labs A recent survey reported by Ed Week Market Brief indicates that 90% of instructional leaders are considering or have committed to investing in social and emotional learning (SEL). Much of that investment will go towards purchasing SEL programs, such as those listed in CASEL’s program guide. We know from quantitative summaries of many, many program evaluations that, when implemented well, these programs can lead to improved academic, social, and emotional outcomes (Durlak, Weissberg, Dymnicki, Taylor, & Schellinger, 2011). The program evaluations summarized by Durlak and colleagues carefully measured student outcomes to understand program impact. Outside of the context of this kind of study, however, educators rarely have an opportunity to use high-quality student assessment in […]

  • Connecting the Dots of SEL Assessment: Methodologies that Matter for Students, Teachers, and Policy

    By: Christina Cipriano, Ph.D.   You can’t have evidence-based practice without evidence. You can’t have evidence without assessments. But, what are the “right” assessments for SEL? Assessments that matter for students. Accessible assessments match students’ needs, and their results direct student pathways to engagement and learning. Assessments that matter for practice. Good assessments capture learning in a meaningful way and promote the building of an evidence base of best practice for instruction. Effective assessments provide real-time information for educators to teach from — scores that support student growth and inform teacher instruction. Assessments that matter for policy. Formative, summative, and standardized assessment structures play a key role in federal education and accountability mandates, and scores contribute to funding distributions at the […]

  • Balancing and Aligning District and School Leader Approaches to SEL Assessment

    Eric Moore, Chief of Accountability, Research and Equity and Interim Chief of Academics Erin Rathke, Principal Justice Page Middle School Minneapolis Public Schools   As a district level administrator and middle school principal, we wanted to jointly write this blog in an attempt to align theory with practice around SEL measurement. From our experiences in education, there is often a disconnect between the grandiose ideas and practices of district office staff and the day to day experience of building principals. In 2017, Minneapolis public schools became a member of the CASEL collaborating district initiative. Our goal as a district is for all seventy-two of our schools to begin integrating elements of social and emotional learning, including SEL measurement, into all […]

  • Washoe County Schools Embeds SEL Assessment in their Climate Surveys

    Washoe County Schools uses an SEL assessment embedded in their climate surveys. All students in grades 5-9 and 11 take the survey annually. It is administered online via a link on their website. Washoe County staff didn’t feel comfortable putting SEL scores on student profiles, so they focus on aggregate reporting. They report on SEL in a simple way: for each SEL domain, they report the percent of students who rated the competencies within that domain as easy or difficult. The data are publicly accessible on their website. The climate survey reports (including SEL data) are generated by a vendor. PDFs of overall school results are compiled with other data and given to schools. They developed survey items in part […]