Linking Social Emotional Learning (SEL) Programs and Assessment

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Is your school district using an evidence-based social emotional learning (SEL) program or curriculum? If so, how are you measuring skills to inform instruction and to measure progress over time?

This two-part blog series is for educators who use (or are planning to use) an SEL program and who want to use SEL assessment to measure and increase program effectiveness.

Here’s the punch line: For SEL assessment to enhance program effectiveness, it should measure the skills that are the focus of instruction. In addition, student SEL skill assessment data should be used to guide how SEL programs are used.

→ Download SEL Program Alignments to SELweb

In this post, I discuss the relationship between the skills your SEL program is designed to impart and the skills your SEL assessment is designed to measure. The next post will take up the issue of how SEL assessment data can inform how to use SEL programs.

Combining Social Emotional Learning Curriculum and Assessment

In prior blog posts (here and here) and my forthcoming book, I’ve written about how to use student SEL skill assessment data effectively. Here’s a recap of my main message: Student assessment data can inform SEL instructional programs effectively. Devil being in the details, the question most of us struggle with is how, specifically, does one use assessment data to make decisions about how best to implement an SEL program?

In these blog posts, I’m going to get into the details. Here’s what I recommend. First, you need two essential ingredients:

  1. A universal evidence-based social and emotional learning program.
  2. An SEL assessment that measures the skills that are the focus of your SEL program.

Having both of these things is not as easy as it might seem. Program developers typically do not bundle student SEL assessments with their programs and assessment developers generally do not provide programs to teach the skills their assessments measure. So it can be hard to know which SEL skill assessments measure what your SEL program is designed to teach.

Matching SEL Skills in Programs and Assessments

We at xSEL Labs have begun to address this problem by cross-walking the scope and sequence of commonly used SEL programs and SELweb. These crosswalks show the overlap between what each lesson is designed to teach and what SELweb is designed to assess.

Take a look at the example below. Each row is a lesson. The color-coded columns reflect the skills SELweb is designed to measure. Where the content of a lesson reflects one of the skill areas assessed by SELweb, there are check marks—a single check mark means there is meaningful overlap. Two check marks means there is a lot of overlap.

Second Step Curriculum Alignment

Download SEL Program Alignments to SELweb

You can see that the content of nearly every lesson is assessed by one or more SELweb modules. In addition, for each skill SELweb is designed to assess, there are multiple lessons designed to teach that skill.

We have done this kind of crosswalk for several of the most widely used SEL programs, including Second Step, Sanford Harmony, Open Circle, Getting Along Together and Move This World. We are working to add to our library. We have found that there is substantial overlap between what these programs are designed to teach and what SELweb is designed to assess.

Don’t see the program you use here? Let us know, and we’ll see what we can do about adding to the library.

So your first job is to find a student SEL skill assessment designed to measure the skills targeted by the SEL program you are using. Once you’ve done that, you’re on your way.

→ Download SEL Program Alignments to SELweb

In the next blog post, we’ll talk about how SELweb assessment data can help you focus your use of an SEL program.

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