Finding the Right SEL Assessment: New Guide for Educators

By Katie Buckley (Transforming Education), Jeremy Taylor (CASEL) and Lindsay Read (CASEL)


One of the biggest obstacles to using data to inspire practice is simply the task of selecting and using an appropriate assessment.  While there are many assessments out there, especially from various research efforts, finding one that is suitable for assessing particular social and emotional competencies that a school or district wants to focus on is often not easy.  This Fall, some useful tools to help in that process are being released.

We are thrilled to share a preview of the SEL Assessment Guide, which will be available to the public in early November. The early access passcode is provided down below.

The guide was created to help practitioners, especially school and district leaders and SEL teams, to select and use student SEL competency assessments. It provides:

  • an up-to-date, accessible catalog of over twenty assessments used by practitioners to assess the development of students’ social-emotional learning (SEL) competencies,
  • guidance on how to select an assessment and use student SEL competency data, and
  • examples of how district and school leaders are currently using those assessments in practice to foster improvements in student outcomes.

District and school leaders can use the guide’s interactive catalog to find profiles of currently available SEL competency assessments. Users can filter assessments by construct, grade level, and format (e.g., self-report, teacher report) as well as bookmark certain assessments to return to at a later time. By clicking on an assessment profile, users will be taken to a page with more detailed information.

An accompanying Practitioner Brief, created jointly by the AWG and RAND Corporation will help schools and districts choose and use SEL competency assessments. The brief, Choosing and Using SEL Competency Assessments: What Schools and Districts Need to Know, provides a series of steps to help users no matter where they are on their assessment journey. It also discusses the benefits and challenges of measuring SEL competencies and provides recommendations for using SEL competency data in practice. Of particular note is that we strongly encourage users of the SEL Assessment Guide to use assessments to identify student strengths (as opposed to as a screen for student deficits) and to consider the school climate and contextual factors in which students’ SEL competencies develop.


Preview the Assessment Guide:

Early Access Passcode: assessmentNov2018


Users of the SEL Assessment Guide will also be able to access two partner efforts:

  • The soon-to-be-released Assessment Finder created by the Rand Corporation (see next week’s blog!). RAND’s Assessment Finder lists more than 200 assessments of interpersonal, intrapersonal, and higher-order cognitive competencies. The Assessment Finder enables practitioners, researchers, and policymakers to explore what assessments are available and obtain key information about what they are designed to measure, how they operate, what demands they place on students and teachers, and what kinds of uses their scores support. Users of the SEL Assessment Guide seeking additional information about an assessment’s reliability and validity will be able to move seamlessly to the Assessment Finder to obtain this information.
  • The Harvard Taxonomy project, a platform that illustrates points of alignment and divergence across SEL competencies in different frameworks in a way that enables practitioners to identify common ground and to see what is distinct within any particular framework. Users seeking information about particular frameworks that encompass their prioritized competencies can access the Taxonomy project’s interactive website (to be released in Spring 2019).

As members of the Measuring SEL Collaborator Network and readers of our Blog, we especially want your feedback! We hope you will have a chance to preview the guide. If you do, we encourage you to complete our feedback survey in order to help us improve the guide before its November launch. Note: you will automatically receive a feedback survey approximately two weeks after you visit the guide.  


The guide is the product of the Assessment Work Group that brings you Measuring SEL. In addition to our subgroup leads, Katie Buckley (Transforming Education) and Jeremy Taylor (CASEL), the following work group members and staff contributed to the creation of the guide:

Craig Bailey, Yale Center for Emotional Intelligence

Dale Blyth, University of Minnesota

Laura Davidson, Washoe County School District

Susanne Denham, George Mason University

Laura Hamilton, RAND Corporation

Ben Hayes, Washoe County School District

Rob Jagers, CASEL

Rebecca Lectura, CASEL

Eric Moore, Minneapolis Public Schools

Lindsay Read, CASEL

Michelle Steagall, CORE Districts

Brian Stecher, RAND Corporation

Jordan Trejo, CASEL

Marty West, Harvard University

Roger Weissberg, CASEL


We also would like to acknowledge a few additional members of the CASEL staff who played important roles on this project, including:

Kay Daly

Carolina Herrera

Stephanie Itano

Shari Noland


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