However, providing physical access to an evidence-based curriculum does not by itself ensure that a student who lacks, for example, optimism and a sense of agency will benefit from that curriculum and be prepared for life after graduation. To meaningfully “access” or “receive” an educational resource requires that the student has skills such as the ability to engage with the material in an organized way, persist in efforts to master the material, and apply the content to solve real life problems and challenges. These social and emotional skills enable the student to master and derive benefit from the curriculum.
Like any other skill set or trait, students differ in their level of SEC; some students will have well-developed skills; others will have significant skill deficits. Therefore, ensuring that each student has sufficient skills to access or benefit from instruction requires assessing the unique social and emotional strengths and needs of each student and then providing data-driven differentiated instruction. If we believe, as research over the past 20 years has indicated, that SEC is essential to school and life success, then we have a duty as educators to ensure that each of our students has a full complement of social and emotional skills.
Fortunately, good, well-developed, rigorous, and practical measures of students’ SEC are available. Both CASEL and the American Institutes for Research (AIR) have published reports of social and emotional assessments. CASEL also released “Measuring SEL: Using Data to Inspire Practice.” This interactive tool not only provides information on a wide variety of assessments, but also on how to use assessment data. AIR’s tool, “Are You Ready to Assess Social and Emotional Learning and Development Tool Kit,” provides detailed information on assessments of conditions for learning, which includes school climate, social and emotional learning (SEL) implementation, and SECs. Both resources can provide educational leaders with a wealth of information to use in selecting the right SEL assessment for them.
Regarding our collective commitment to educational equity, we should turn the popular phrase, “What gets measured gets treasured,” around so that it reads, “What gets treasured gets measured.” The assessment of each student’s social and emotional skills followed by differentiated instruction will maximize the likelihood that each student in our schools has the skill set they need to access and benefit from instruction. This individualized, data-driven approach is an important strategy to help our schools, districts, and country achieve educational equity.
- Promoting student choice through SEL self-assessment - January 31, 2022
- How social and emotional competence leads to educational equity - October 26, 2021
- Building student resilience yields positive mental health behaviors - September 8, 2021