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Social and Emotional Learning Assessment

Introduction to Social and Emotional Learning Assessment

Assessing social and emotional learning (SEL) is more than screening student SEL competencies. It includes assessing the fidelity of your SEL program implementation and using SEL data in Plan-Do-Study-Act cycles in a Continuous Quality Improvement (CQI) process.

Social and emotional learning skills are contextual and developmental; therefore, the Wisconsin Department of Public Instruction's (DPI) focus in SEL assessment is not to identify deficits, or to identify students for placement in remediation groups or other intervention programs. Social and emotional learning competence assessments do not have the statistical properties that academic assessments do, and SEL assessment tools are not designed to identify SEL proficiencies. Instead, SEL competency assessments are designed to guide instruction, monitor developmental progress, and analyze the effectiveness of SEL program implementation.

Prior to beginning work on SEL assessment, it is recommended that you read Making SEL Assessment Work: Ten Practitioner Beliefs. Use the following questions to guide your thinking:

  1. Were any of the 10 beliefs a surprise to you?
  2. Which of these beliefs are already demonstrated in your school or district?
  3. Which belief(s) may be challenging?

Modes of Assessment

One tool does not fit all. When considering how to assess SEL competence it is important to choose the assessment format that will best capture the data you are looking for. Some competencies may be effectively assessed using a survey of the adults working with the students, but it is not the best way to assess all of the competencies. The Assessment Methods and Wisconsin SEL Competencies tool, created by Dr. Clark McKown for the DPI, gives suggestions for the modes of assessment best suited to each competency. Assessment of SEL competencies may require multiple modes of assessment in order to achieve your data collection and assessment goals.

Understanding the Differences: Social and Emotional Learning (SEL) Competence Assessment and Social, Emotional, and Behavioral (SEB) Screening and Assessment

To learn more about differentiating between Social and Emotional Learning (SEL) Competency Assessment, Universal Social, Emotional, and Behavioral (SEB) screening, and more targeted SEB assessment, view the SEL Competence Assessment and SEB Screening and Assessment document. This document provides some basic information relating to screening and assessment, with a selection of additional resources linked at the end to support the comprehensive planning necessary to implement effective practices.

For questions about this information, contact Beth Herman (608) 267-9242, Teri LeSage (608) 267-5078