3 Keys to Success for Measuring Social Emotional Learning

Today, there’s tremendous interest in measuring social emotional learning (SEL) and using that feedback data to drive school and district-wide improvements. Schools nationwide are using SEL curricula and crafting exciting programs to develop students’ SEL skills, including grit, sense of belonging, self-efficacy, and growth mindset. Educators know that these are the skills and traits that really matter for life and school outcomes—and that help students arrive at school every day feeling excited to learn.

The next step is to measure social emotional learning. What’s working to help students increase their confidence, engagement, and excitement about learning? Where are the areas of greatest need for social-emotional learning? To get started measuring SEL, here are three critical factors for success.

1. Select high-quality measures of social emotional learning.

The first step is deciding what you care about and want to measure in your school or district. You might be interested in a general diagnostic for SEL, investigating an issue, or communicating your emphasis on a certain area to your community. Either way, you’ll want to use high-quality measures so that you’re reliably assessing the areas you care about.

Consider thinking about social emotional learning in three dimensions: student competencies, student supports and environment, and teacher skills and perspectives. Each of these dimensions contains a number of topics you can measure, like grit, growth mindset, self-efficacy, and self-management. With Panorama’s social-emotional learning measures, available for free, you can pick and choose the topics that you’re most interested in knowing about in your district.

social emotional learning reports

SEL measures and interactive reports

From the start, engage adults and students in your school community about what you’re measuring related to social emotional learning and why. If your school has developed a program or goal related to social emotional learning and decides to assess students’ SEL, engage teachers and the community throughout the process to make sure your investment in SEL is a success.

2. Make SEL reports available to all stakeholders.

After you select SEL measures and students have answered questions related to their skills and supports, the next step is to make results available broadly in your school community. By making the reports available to school leaders, teaching coaches, and teachers, everyone can identify opportunities for students to grow and for school culture to improve.

Schools and districts often use construct-level analysis alongside item-level analysis in their reports. At the construct (or topic) level, you’ll explore high-level scores for grit and growth mindset. Then, you can go through individual items (or questions) to see more precise areas of strength and areas for growth.

To delve another layer into the data, you can examine subgroup breakdowns to understand how social emotional learning plays out across different groups in your school—such as English language learners, students with FRPL status, grade level, student gender, and race/ethnicity.

Making reports available to administrators and teachers is an opportunity to create a shared understanding of SEL at your school or district. Consider sharing results at a community meeting or in your school newsletter. Make your SEL reports a key part of a staff meeting or professional development day at school.

3. Provide strategies for next steps.

After reporting results back to the school community, the final critical factor for success is taking action. In order to act on SEL data, everyone in the district and school needs strategies, tools, and support. Many schools and districts use social emotional learning curriculum like Open Circle or Second Step to introduce and grow SEL in students. Panorama’s online community for professional learning, Playbook, includes classroom strategies for infusing SEL into instructional and non-instructional classroom moments. If you’ve invested in assessing SEL and sharing results, rounding out a successful measurement process means equipping everyone in your school with what they need to take action to grow SEL.

For more information, download Panorama’s 22 SEL measures and our guide to measuring SEL. We hope you find these resources useful in planning to measure SEL!

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