SEL and Assessment

Assessment is a cornerstone of effective instruction and learning. This is true for academic disciplines such as math and science, and also for social and emotional learning (SEL). In fact, a recent PDK poll indicated that the vast majority of Americans agree that measurement of SEL competencies is important and 84% say they believe schools should assess students’ interpersonal skills. 

To advance SEL and assessment, CASEL recognizes the importance of establishing practical assessments that are scientifically sound, feasible to use, and actionable, as well as guidance on how to use these measures. In a 2018 national survey, the majority of principals reported that they believe that social and emotional skills can and should be assessed annually. However, only 17 percent stated that they were familiar with SEL assessments.  


  • Learn more: Understanding SEL Assessment 

    CASEL spearheaded a three-year initiative (2016-2019) to make critical advancements in SE competence assessment that can directly impact school districts and young people. In partnership with CORE Districts, Transforming Education, xSEL Labs, the Harvard Taxonomy Project, the RAND Corporation, and nearly 20 other leading researchers and practitioners, the initiative developed helpful guidance for the field.

    • Catalyzing Future Directions of Social and Emotional Learning Assessment (2020)
    • Student Social and Emotional Competence Assessment: The Current State of the Field and a Vision for the Future (2019)

    • Making SEL Assessment Work: Ten Practitioner Beliefs (2019)
    • Practitioner Guide: Choosing and Using SEL Assessments (2018)
    • SEL and Assessment resource library (2019)

    Selecting an SEL Framework

    SEL is a field with a growing number of different frameworks and finding a useful framework can help provide a foundation for SEL assessment and improvement efforts. These briefs summarize what frameworks are, describe specific frameworks, explore ways to compare and align frameworks, and examine critical topics to help school, district, and state teams guide the implementation and continuous improvement of their preschool to high school SEL programming and practice.

    • SEL Frameworks – What are They and Why are They Important? (2018)
    • SEL Frameworks – Practical Challenges and Opportunities (2018)
    • Ten Criteria for Describing and Selecting SEL Frameworks (2019)
    • Intro to Descriptive Series brief (2019)
    • Introduction to the Taxonomy Project: Tools for Selecting & Aligning SEL Frameworks (2019)
    • Social-Emotional Competencies in Context: Using Social-Emotional Frameworks to Build Educators’ Understanding (2019)
    • An Examination of Frameworks for Social and Emotional Learning (SEL) Reflected in State K-12 Learning Standards (2019)
    • Keeping SEL Developmental: The Importance of a Developmental Lens for Fostering and Assessing SEL Competencies + summary (2018)
    • Equity & Social Emotional Learning: A Cultural Analysis + summary (2018)

    SEL Performance Measures Design Challenge

    The 2017-2019 Design Challenge sought to stimulate the development and adoption of direct assessments of social-emotional competence to support effective instruction and positive student development.

    • Design Challenge 1 Lessons Learned (2017)
    • Design Challenge 2 Lessons Learned (2018)

    • Design Challenge 3 Lessons Learned (2019)

  • Measuring SEL Weekly Blog

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Hear more from Experts

  • Where are we with SEL assessment and where do we need to go to ensure data inspires practice?
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  • How developmental tasks inform state frameworks for quality standards and guidance.
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  • Concise, accessible information to support selecting an SEL Framework.
    Learn more

  • Hear from the winners as they discuss SE competence assessments.
    Learn more