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About SEL Assessments

Schools are already using SEL assessments to collect info about student growth in non-academic skills, but how they are using the data is as, if not more, important than the data collection itself. Informed student feedback must be the goal to help develop student-driven learning of themselves, each other, as well as an increasing capacity for academic success.

There are three popular assessment practices for SEL in schools today. (1) Self-assessment surveys, (2) performance observation feedback, and (3) direct assessment of SEL knowledge.


Internal Reflection. Self-assessment surveys are most popular but offer only a single perspective of the self and interactions based on the point-of-view of the person answering the survey. With guidance, this survey data can be helpful to the individual when there it's explained that this survey data serves only to inform that individual of their own growth over time (i.e. avoid extrinsic motivation for self-assessment surveys).


External Observation. A person observing SEL growth of another is limited by that person's own knowledge of SEL Competencies and developed biases and extrinsically motivated expectations. This data is useful in connection with self-assessment and direct assessment data in identifying gaps in an institution's expectations versus its reality, helping to distinguish potential improvements to the environment for promoting student SEL growth.


External Assessment. Direct assessment is another popular approach for SEL data collection. Digital assessment tools are improving and it is important for institutions to be transparent in which SEL competencies (and to what degree) are valued and wish to be developed within a community. Absence of knowledge doesn't always equate to absence of skill so it is important this data isn't the sole basis for identifying student needs of a specific SEL Competency.


Three models. One approach. It's important we recognize how a student sees themselves as they reflect and develop their own capacity for increasing SEL competencies, must take into consideration how we compare that to knowledge externally observed or assessed. One approach that incorporates all three assessment methods can serve to effectively shape a learning environment seeking to address specific student strengths and objectively and intentionally monitor progress in any areas of concern.

As efforts are made to develop one approach which incorporates all three assessment practices, we must remember: we don't just teach ALL students - we teach EACH student.

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