As school districts across the United States are beginning to move towards “normalcy,” a few things rise to the top as being crucial for any type of return to pre-pandemic life. One of those things is Social and Emotional Learning (SEL). Educational leaders have become increasingly aware of the benefits of integrating SEL into classrooms. Schools with effective SEL integrations produce students who not only report a positive climate, they also experience more success academically. According to a recent report from CASEL, 70% of principals believe that SEL should be assessed to ensure that the attempts to support students with SEL are effective (Atwell & Bridgeland, 2019). Since the majority of school leaders are on the same page when it comes to the importance of assessing SEL, it lends itself to ask the question- “How are we assessing SEL in our schools?” Here, we are provided with an opportunity to explore ways that SEL assessments can support continuous growth toward school and district SEL outcomes. The following is a list of just three ways you can think about assessing SEL in your school districts to work towards your SEL goals.
Use SEL assessments to continuously achieve outcomes by:
1. Tracking Progress
SEL assessments provide an opportunity to gain insight into the narrative playing out in a school setting. Using these assessments allows educators to explore where their students have been, where they are, and where they might go if we don’t intervene. Tracking student progress across CASEL’s Core Competencies (self awareness, self management, responsible decision making, relationship skills, social awareness) is key to identifying and responding to student needs. By having both recurring and accurate data, building leaders can guide their staff with implementing effective interventions. Tracking student progress ensures the opportunity to celebrate successes and monitor potential areas of growth.
2. Actively Working Toward Closing Opportunity Gaps
Students from diverse backgrounds are often overrepresented in special education programs as well as labeled as having chronic absenteeism, and being suspended at a higher rate than their peers. Additionally, these students often report social-emotional issues as barriers to success. As a result, the achievement gap continues to widen. Many educational leaders recognize both the challenge as well as the importance of closing this gap, and make it a priority to create district-wide SEL goals that focus on better meeting the needs of these students. By continuously assessing SEL this opens up an additional space to identify and evaluate options to address those needs. Being able to have a continuous pulse on where all students are in terms of their social emotional needs creates the space to implement timely and appropriate interventions for these students, and not wait until it’s too late.
By continuously assessing SEL this opens up an additional space to identify and evaluate options to address students needs.
3. Confronting Beliefs
Adult learning theories stress the importance of valuing experiences. However, as adults, we bring in belief systems that directly impact the decisions that we make, and the way we interpret reality. This has significant implications for educators. Gregory and Fergus (2017) explain that when teachers are unaware of these beliefs, it can lead to unintentional harmful behaviors. Data driven assessment and instruction aides in confronting beliefs because it forces an analysis of your perception vs. the data. Tackling beliefs that do not align with collected data gives school leaders the opportunity to reflect on areas where more professional learning may be needed.
The value of SEL assessments is multifaceted and critical to the continued success of SEL integration efforts in schools. With Satchel Pulse, you can utilize a variety of features to not only make the assessment process seamless, but to actively grow toward your goals.
Atwell, M. N., & Bridgeland, J. M. (2019). Ready to Lead: A 2019 Update of Principals' Perspectives on How Social and Emotional Learning Can Prepare Children and Transform Schools. A Report for CASEL. Civic.
Gregory, A., & Fergus, E. (2017). Social and emotional learning and equity in school discipline. The Future of Our Children, 27, 117–136.