Council Bluffs Community School District Uses SEL Assessment to Facilitate Conversations with Students

Council Bluffs Community School District in Council Bluffs, Iowa, serves 9,000 students. In September 2017, they began using the Panorama student survey and teacher measure in their 6th- to 12th-grade classrooms. It is administered digitally during their advisement period and takes about 20 minutes. The developer collects the data and provides reports with grade-, school- and district-level trends.

Why did you choose this measure?

In early 2016, Chief Academic Officer Dr. Corey Vorthmann met with administrators and teacher leaders and developed a profile of a graduate ready for the future that contained social emotional indicators as well as academic indicators. They wanted a system that uses the CASEL framework to provide a common language, that would be specific enough for classroom use and broad enough to use at the district level. In September 2017, they began using this measure with their 6th- to 12th-grade students. The reports show what domains show improved scores and where the schools may make changes to provide additional support.

How do you use this measure?

Our schools use measure data for a few related purposes:

  1. To start the conversation about social emotional learning with students.  As part of the Advisory Program, students lead conferences with their advisor about topics like organizational skill and stress management. Advisors are given support and training on how to talk about the data with their students.
  2. To understand what universal supports could be offered at the building level. The district wants to see an 80% positive score on the measure before shifting their resources to individual interventions. They feel strongly that individual interventions will not make up for a poor universal support system.

What additional insights would you share with others considering using a measure to facilitate conversations with students and families about student SE competency?

“You have to go slow to go fast.” Dr. Vorthmann and the district team want to provide teachers with multiple opportunities and entry points to use the assessment. The 2016-2017 school year was the pilot year for learning and exploring the measure, where they examined how complementary the measure was to their efforts, if they had capacity to implement, and see how scalable the measure is. The 2017-2018 school year is the implementation year, during which we invest in time and training for our teachers to feel confident and at ease with the measure. During the 2018-2019 school year, all teachers should be administering the survey and using the data comfortably.

Corey Vorthmann, Chief Academic Officer

Council Bluffs Community School District

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