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May 19, 2021

Assessing Social and Emotional Learning At School Is Crucial But Tricky

Fight for Life, Indianapolis, INSource: BOLD | Repost Fight for Life Foundation 5/19/2021 –

How do we know that a student is thriving at school? In the past, student grades and test scores have been the key measures of academic success. But these days, students also need to know how to set and pursue goals, understand and manage emotions, cope with setbacks, show empathy, collaborate, engage in positive social relationships, and make responsible decisions—a skill set called social and emotional learning (SEL).

Although extensive research over decades has demonstrated that social and emotional skills contribute to students’ academic achievement and well-being, educators lack pragmatic, scalable, and actionable ways to measure SEL in school settings. The numerous commercial SEL surveys marketed to school districts are limited in significant ways.

First, the response options are abstract and vague (e.g., never, often, sometimes) and rely on teachers’ subjective perceptions. The format requires teachers to focus on a single student at a time, which produces similar scores across distinct SEL skills (a phenomenon known as the halo effect) and limits teachers’ ability to identify strengths and opportunities for growth.

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