Assessing Social-Emotional Learning

This resource provides a brief overview on social emotional learning (SEL) and its importance in students' learning and achievement, a fact which is recognized in the new regulations under the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA). The authors' purpose in this article is to make aware that "the validity of using assessments of these factors to inform high-stakes teacher- or school-level accountability decisions remains an open question in need of substantial further research" (p. 20). They offer three general recommendations on the assessment of SEL:

  1. SEL skills tend to be complex and multifaceted, so when feasible, multiple types of assessment should be targeted at each construct of interest;
  2. Assessments should be standardized to ensure students and teachers are encountering comparable stimuli across school contexts; and
  3. State boards of education and state education agencies work with experts in the field to both build SEL assessments and thoroughly research their measurement characteristics, validity, and fairness.
Content Comments 

This publication is targeted to those who work at the state-level, either on state boards of education or in state education agencies. The message of this article is important for policymakers to understand that the work in SEL assessments has tended to focus on students' development and not on state accountability. The authors caution that there is much work to be done by stakeholders to ensure that SEL assessments are reliable and valid for accountability purposes. This article can help start the conversation and action for those working at the state-level.