Evidence Base

Rigorous research puts our assessments to the test

We know, and research confirms, that SEL matters to student success in school and life. You want to use SEL assessment to understand your students, to improve teaching and learning, and to move the needle on student academic, social, and emotional learning.

You need to be able to trust your SEL assessment data.

xSEL Labs submits all our assessments to the test. All of our assessments are based on extensive work demonstrating that SEL skills can be assessed, and that the assessments we bring to market have strong technical properties.

The research tells a story—the story of SELweb and xSEL Labs

Clark is trained as a clinical psychologist. Early in his career at Rush University Medical Center, he did lots of clinical assessment. He and his colleagues wanted better tools to understand children’s social-emotional strengths and needs—tools that as technically sound and informative as the best cognitive and achievement tests, tools that measured the skills directly, not through teacher or parent report.

They started by looking in clinical chart data to see if the few social-emotional assessments they used showed evidence of promise. They learned, in brief, that these measures, imperfect though they were, showed some promise.

Encouraged by this work, they conducted a study with typically developing and clinic-referred students. Students completed many experimental measures of social-emotional learning and they studied whether they showed promise. They learned that the assessments worked well.

In the course of that proof of concept work, educators in partner schools expressed a strong desire to assess and address student social-emotional learning. This led to a migration from the clinic to the classroom.

Clark and his team secured a grant from the Institute of Education Sciences to create an assessment based on the lessons we had learned so far. SELweb EE was born.

During the first year of the grant, they created the assessment modules and a web platform to deliver the assessment.

During the second year, they collected lots of data to see how SELweb worked. Mostly, it worked well.

They made a few changes based on the data.

During the third year, they collected lots more data to see how the revised SELweb worked. They learned that scores are reliable and measure what they were designed to measure and that SEL skills are linked to child behavior and how well they do at school.

During the fourth year, a group of children around the country completed SELweb. They used those data to develop norms.

Clark formed xSEL Labs and licensed the SELweb intellectual property from the university. Further development and distribution now happens at xSEL Labs.

The teams at Rush and xSEL Labs team continue to conduct research, and are constantly making improvements to how SELweb works, how the data are reported, and how to connect lessons learned to effective teaching and learning.