SEL Field Notes | November 22

November 22, 2019

This newsletter is curated by the American Institutes for Research and CASEL for the MeasuringSEL Collaborator Network and aims to keep you engaged with news, research, and resources relevant to measurement and data in the field of social and emotional learning.
Please let us know what you are reading, doing and seeing in the field that’s worth sharing. Tell us about it
here!

Measurement in Practice
Gallup: Focus on student engagement for better academic outcomes
With the current shift in U.S. education policies putting a priority on social-emotional learning (SEL), the importance of teachers and schools having SEL resources — proven to create positive student outcomes — is growing rapidly. As the new goals and guidelines are implemented in accordance with the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA), schools have, unfortunately, been flooded with instructional guides, curriculum advice, and other implementation options that are founded on minimal research or unproven outcomes. 

Education Dive: Curricular Counsel: How a Minnesota district looks beyond assessment to measure success
For several years, Independent School District 728 in Elk River, Minnesota, has ranked at or near the top on state assessments. Much of that success, according to Superintendent Daniel Bittman, is thanks to Assistant Superintendent of Educational Services Jana Hennen-Burr. But there’s more to what’s working in the state’s eighth-largest district than assessment success. 

The 74: What is school quality, and who decides? We’re bringing together educators, families, and students in this vital discussion
The past few weeks have been a busy and conflicted time in Colorado around questions of school quality. As the state board voted to raise the “cut score” for elementary and middle school performance ratings by 8 percentage points, establishing a higher bar for schools across Colorado to achieve success, the state Department of Education is preparing to release guidance for a new pilot project for local accountability systems to supplement state rankings. 

Counterpoints                                
Education Next: Time to put an ice pack on the fever for social and emotional learning
Months ago, Rick Hess and Chester E. Finn, Jr., wrote a cautionary piece showing how SEL could do much good if deployed in pursuit of academic learning, but also runs multiple risks of going off the rails, much as happened to earlier “whole child” education movements such as “self-esteem” and “values clarification.” They offered seven cautions lest SEL boosters nudge it in the latter direction.

Education Next: An antidote to the “fever” of social and emotional learning: Build from science and evidence, and ask the right questions
The recent commentary, “Time To Put an Ice Pack on the Fever for Social and Emotional Learning,” includes some valid points, but also oversimplifications and inaccuracies, write Sophie Barnes and Stephanie Jones. Asking the wrong questions, such as whether to focus on SEL versus academics, risks perpetuating stale narratives that undermine actual progress in the field and presents SEL as a polarizing, partisan issue.

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