How do you measure Social and Emotional Learning?

Published in:  21st century skills, Education

by Pisana Ferrari – cApStAn Ambassador to the Global Village

In a recent Helchinger report post, Jeremy Taylor and Laura Hamilton give educators/teachers/school principals precious tips on how to look for (and choose) assessments that measure Social and Emotional Learning (SEL). (1)

The “SEL Assessment Guide”, developed by Casel, gives detailed information about SEL competencies measured by widely used assessments, and real-life reports of how these data are being used. The “RAND Education Assessment Finder” lists over 200 assessments on cognitive, inter-personal and intra-personal competencies, where one can search by keyword, competencies, measure details (respondent, method of administration, item format…).

An important benefit is that school and district leaders can learn from other stakeholders about what has worked well and where the challenges might lie. SEL assessment data can thus becomes an essential element of successfully implementing SEL in a systemic and sustainable manner, say the authors, who warn that the assessments should not be used as the only source of information. Contextual information, e.g. measures of the learning environment and of SEL program results, are essential for educators to “make sense” of results.

James Taylor and Laura Hamilton are also co-authors of a study published by the Rand Corporation in October 2018 (2). According to this paper, SEL competency assessment is an emerging area, which is growing rapidly, but there is less consistency across frameworks and less clarity about terminology and developmental progressions than in other, more established fields. And, also, few SEL assessments have undergone the validation process which is typical of most large-scale academic assessments. This is where the two new tools can provide very useful support and guidance.

Foot notes:

1) Jeremy Taylor is director of assessment and continuous improvement at CASEL: Collaborative for Academic, Social, and Emotional Learning. Laura Hamilton is a senior behavioral scientist and directs the Center for Social and Emotional Learning Research at the nonprofit, nonpartisan RAND Corporation.
Helchinger report post: https://hechingerreport.org/opinion-how-do-you-measure-social-and-emotional-learning/

2) http://measuringsel.casel.org/pdf/practitioner-guidance.pdf

Photo: Brooke Cagle @ Unsplash