The state of SEL measurement is new and constantly evolving, but the field continues to build upon encouraging information about the validity and reliability of existing SEL measures.
TransformEd is committed to advancing knowledge of and access to cutting-edge tools in and approaches to student SEL assessment.
The Assessment Work Group
TransformEd is a partner in a multidisciplinary collaborative of leading education researchers and practitioners known as the Assessment Work Group, focused on identifying key advancements in student SEL assessment. Managed by CASEL, this group includes leaders from Transforming Education as well as the RAND Corporation, Harvard University, the California CORE Districts, xSEL Labs, and several universities, nonprofit organizations, and school districts across the country.
The online SEL Assessment Guide offers advice to districts and schools on how to choose and use student SEL competency assessments, provides a curated catalog of 23 assessments currently used in practice, and features real-world examples of how practitioners are using SEL competency assessments. Users can search by SEL competency, grade level, and/or assessment type. The goal of the guide is to help educators determine which SEL competency assessments are right for them.
An accompanying Practitioner Guidance Report supports educators in choosing and, ultimately, using SEL competency assessments.
Measurement Properties of Student Surveys
TransformEd is proud to release our working paper, Measurement Properties of Student Social-Emotional Competency and School Culture-Climate Surveys in the NewSchools Invent Cohort. This is the first study to examine the measurement properties of a set of curated scales measuring students’ perceptions of their social-emotional competencies and of their school’s culture and climate.
In this study, we, along with our partners NewSchools Venture Fund and EdAnalytics, explore the extent to which the items in the surveys provide consistent and new information about the underlying constructs being assessed, the extent to which the items are interpreted comparably across student subgroups, and the extent to which the scales measure unique underlying constructs.
Our preliminary results suggest that the social-emotional and culture-climate surveys are suitable for practitioners to use to inform specific classroom strategies or instructional practices. Recognizing, however, that validation is an ongoing process in which multiple sources of evidence should be brought to bear, we will continue to explore these surveys using qualitative and quantitative analyses based on additional years of data.
TransformEd has curated existing survey-based scales – freely available below – that were developed and validated by other researchers for our district partners to use.
Student Self-Report Surveys, which ask students to reflect on and assess their own social-emotional competencies, have been piloted and scaled in schools, most notably as part of the CORE Districts’ data measurement system in California. While ongoing research is needed to better understand issues of bias in self-reporting, analysis by Policy Analysis for California Education (PACE) on the first full year of implementation (2014-2015) had positive indications: the CORE District’s survey-based SEL measures demonstrated promising evidence of validity and reliability of social-emotional competencies for the purpose of informing school improvement efforts.
Our Goal: Continuous Improvement. While we do believe that the evidence is strong enough to support policy decisions by State Education Agencies (SEAs) and Local Education Agencies (LEAs) to pilot some of the measures for the purpose of driving continuous improvement, TransformEd does not recommend that SEL become a part of formal accountability frameworks. Findings do not yet address how any of these measures would perform in a “high-stakes” accountability setting, especially as they relate to the potential for gaming, reference bias, and social desirability bias, which could undermine the information provided by the measures. And, while the measures used by the CORE Districts were found to be valid and reliable across subgroups, it is imperative that any assessment continue to demonstrate validity and reliability for all students.
For a deeper explanation of our approach to survey-based measurement, see:
- Measuring MESH for background information and complete survey items;
- Our CORE Case Study for more information about how the California’s CORE Districts decided to adopt a data-informed approach to SEL;
- Development and Implementation of Student Social-Emotional Surveys in the CORE Districts in the Journal of Applied Developmental Psychology to learn more about evidence of validity and reliability of the survey instruments.
We’re continually learning: Though we have encouraging data about the validity and reliability of these measures, we acknowledge that validation is an ongoing process. We will continue to work with our school partners and research partners to collect, assess, and publish further data on the validity of these measures for various purposes.
Benchmark data: In order to effectively interpret data from social-emotional measures, it’s useful to have benchmark data to better understand how students are responding to items across schools. We are currently working with our research partners to explore a way to provide such data. For more information, please contact us at 617.453.9750.
Below are three sample SEL survey scales covering the following competencies: self-efficacy, growth mindset, and social-awareness. Each scale consists of 5-9 items with a 5-point answer scale. The entire survey (with all four scales) typically takes students 15-20 minutes to complete. The scales are intended to be administered to students in grades 5-12.
To inquire about how TransformEd can assist your school, district, or state in identifying, field testing, and employing measures of students’ social-emotional competencies, please contact us at 617.453.9750 or [email protected]
In this section, please think about your learning in general.
Please indicate how true each of the following statements is for you:
- My intelligence is something that I can’t change very much.
- Challenging myself won’t make me any smarter.
- There are some things I am not capable of learning.
- If I am not naturally smart in a subject, I will never do well in it.
(Not At All True, A Little True, Somewhat True, Mostly True, Completely True)
Citation: Farrington et al. (2013) Becoming Effective Learners Survey Development Project, Chicago Consortium for School Research
How confident are you about the following at school?
- I can earn an A in my classes.
- I can do well on all my tests, even when they’re difficult.
- I can master the hardest topics in my classes.
- I can meet all the learning goals my teachers set.
(Not At All Confident, A Little Confident, Somewhat Confident, Mostly Confident, Completely Confident)
Citation: Adapted from Farrington et al. (2014) Becoming Effective Learners Survey Development Project, Chicago Consortium for School Research
In this section, please help us better understand your thoughts and actions when you are with other people.
Please answer how often you did the following during the past 30 days. During the past 30 days…
- How carefully did you listen to other people’s points of view? (Not Carefully At All, Slightly Carefully, Somewhat Carefully, Quite Carefully, Extremely Carefully)
- How much did you care about other people’s feelings? (Did Not Care At All, Cared A Little Bit, Cared Somewhat, Cared Quite A Bit, Cared A Tremendous Amount)
- How often did you compliment others’ accomplishments? (Almost Never, Once In A While, Sometimes, Often, Almost All The Time)
- How well did you get along with students who are different from you? (Did Not Get Along At All, Got Along A Little Bit, Got Along Somewhat, Got Along Pretty Well, Got Along Extremely Well)
- How clearly were you able to describe your feelings? (Not At All Clearly, Slightly Clearly, Somewhat Clearly, Quite Clearly, Extremely Clearly)
When others disagreed with you, how respectful were you of their views? (Not At All Respectful, Slightly Respectful, Somewhat Respectful, Quite Respectful,
- Extremely Respectful)
- To what extent were you able to stand up for yourself without putting others down? (Not At All, A Little Bit, Somewhat, Quite A Bit, A Tremendous Amount)
- To what extent were you able to disagree with others without starting an argument? (Not At All, A Little Bit, Somewhat, Quite A Bit, A Tremendous Amount)
Citation: Adapted from AIR and CASEL (2013) Student self-report of social and emotional competencies.
Performance-based measures enable students to demonstrate a particular skill in the classroom or a virtual environment in real time.
Though they have not yet been deployed at the same scale as survey-based measures, we do have some promising findings on the validity and reliability of performance-based measures. These assessments rely less on subjective interpretations by teachers than survey-based assessments, and so research suggests that they may be more effective than surveys at tracking small changes in behavior over time.
Below are examples of these promising, evidence-based measures.