Social-Emotional and School Climate Assessment in Latin America

Social-emotional and school climate assessment in Latin America

Patrick Kyllonen, Educational Testing Service

First in a series of blogs about international efforts to measure SEL

By now many researchers and practitioners are aware of various major social-emotional learning assessment programs in U.S. K-12 systems. These range from accountability assessments in California’s CORE districts to developmental assessments in independent schools and many of the efforts detailed in Paul Tough’s review. Less well known is that there are major programs going on in other parts of the world, and in Latin America in particular. We are learning from and contributing to these programs and here I will highlight a few of them.

In Sao Paolo, March 2014, Brazil’s Ministry of Education hosted a “High Level Policy Forum: Skills for Social Progress” with representatives from 22 countries, and high level officials from 14 of those. The forum featured Nobel Laureate James Heckman and Ms. Viviane Senna noted the evidence that “social and emotional skills are as important as cognitive skills with regards to children’s academic success, and as or even more important with regards to measure of wellbeing.” The meeting identified key skills, and discussed how they develop and can be measured to affect education policy and programs. Brazil is collecting social-emotional data in several large districts which has led to a self-report inventory, and the establishment of Ayrton Senna Institute’s EduLab21 a multidisciplinary network of institutions, researchers, and funders dedicated to promoting evidence-based education policy.

The Chilean Ministry of Education has recently launched a program that supplements its annual census achievement assessment, Simce, with additional indicators of students’ social and personal development and perceptions of school climate. Data gathered through both questionnaires (e.g., self-esteem, motivation, school climate, civic engagement, healthy living habits) and administrative records (e.g., school attendance, retention) benchmark student development and inform policy. Reports are beginning to emerge on topics such as the relationship between academic self-esteem and school motivation and attrition among vulnerable youth.

Mexico’s Secretary of Public Education (SEP) recently proposed a new national education model (El Modelo Educativo 2016) featuring extensive system changes in evaluation, governance, and teacher training. A curricular proposal highlights personal and social development of the student, including the management of emotions and values associated with coexistence. There are current large-scale pilot assessment activities underway, in anticipation of an official launch in the 2017-2018 school year.

These are some of the Latin American assessment activities that are furthest along, but there are significant smaller projects and preparatory activities associated with the development and assessment of social-emotional skills in other Latin American cities and countries, as well, including Bogota, Columbia; Peru; Argentina; and Uruguay, with support from UNESCO, the Inter-American Development Bank, World Bank, USAID, OECD, and others. A key point is that there is a new and growing acknowledgement of the importance of social and emotional skills for education, with assessment playing a central role. This activity will continue and grow, and there ought to be many new opportunities for informing and learning from Latin American SEL programs.


How do these efforts feel similar or different from what is happening in the U.S.?

Are you aware of any other SEL work in Latin America using assessments and data we should know about?


Disclaimer: The Assessment Work Group is committed to enabling a rich dialogue on key issues in the field and seeking out diverse perspectives. The views and opinions expressed in this blog are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of the Assessment Work Group, CASEL or any of the organizations involved with the work group.

Posted in:

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *