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Assessing & Reporting SEL Progress

Issues in Assessing SEL Competencies

**American Institutes for Research. (2015). Are you ready to assess social and emotional development? Washington, DC: SEL Solutions at American Institutes for Research. Available at

This policy brief aims to help policymakers and leaders make decisions related to assessing students’ social and emotional skills. The piece opens with a brief description of where the field of SEL assessment currently stands, and an introduction to the different kinds of assessments in existence. The piece prompts readers to identify the purpose behind measuring SEL (e.g., use of results for accountability, communication with other stakeholders, and/or informed decision-making) and whether or not they can achieve this purpose through another avenue. Next, the authors ask readers to consider implications and trade-offs for rigor and practicality, especially as they relate to school-, district-, or state-level needs and capacities, as well as the number of students served. For example, using a burdensome assessment with a large number of students may have a different cost-benefit balance than using a rigorous, well-developed assessment with a small number of students. The article closes by asking readers whether their SEL assessment decisions align with larger system-level goals and posing other ethical considerations related to student assessment.

Blad, E. (2015). Accountability measures for traits like “grit” questioned [Web log]. Available at

This EdWeek article profiles a research report released in May 2015 cautioning that non-cognitive measures, such as social-emotional skills, should not be included in accountability or teacher evaluation measures. The researchers argue that these skills are important to student success in and outside of the classroom, and that educators should continue to research and implement these concepts. However, the field is relatively new and measurement tools are in their infancy. Attaching results of newly developed assessments to high-stakes accountability systems may not be appropriate at this time. Some of the measurement considerations that are underdeveloped include issues with self-reporting and the subjective nature of interpreting children’s responses. The researchers hope that other stakeholders understand the current limitations of measurement and are eager to see the field learn more over time.

Report Cards

**Elias, M. (2016, March 9). How do we measure social and emotional learning? [Web log]. Available at

The author draws on an analysis of report card comments sections to offer guidance for schools to integrate social-emotional and character competencies (SECD) into school report cards. Elias lists a series of questions to help schools rationalize where gaps exists in their SECD reporting methods. He also provides talking points for school staff who are considering integrating SECD in report cards. Elias suggests that SECD in report cards offers the opportunity for educators to frame conversations with parents about students’ progress that stretch beyond academic performance—for example, a student’s progress towards becoming a productive citizen. Ultimately, the author suggests that the reporting of SECD and systemization of assessing progress is best done when aligned with school and district priorities. .

Oakland Unified School District. (2014). Report to parents - third grade [Oakland Unified School District sample report card]. Oakland, CA: Author. Available for members at this link.

Oakland Unified School District. (n.d.). Crosswalk of social and emotional learning (SEL) skills and social skills/work habits. Oakland, CA: Author. Available for members at this link.

Oakland Unified School District. (n.d.). Scoring guide: 3rd marking period [guidance document provided to Oakland Unified School District teachers]. Oakland, CA: Author. Available for members at this link.

These materials demonstrate the ways in which Oakland Unified School District (OUSD) reflects SEL in its student report cards. The first two pages in this packet are a sample report card, the second page of which includes student ratings for OUSD’s SEL Standards. The third page of the packet is a crosswalk of OUSD’s current SEL skills standards and the social skills/ work habits the district previously measured.  The fourth page of this packet presents the scoring guide OUSD’s teachers use to report a student’s progress in SEL skills. By including these standards in mandated report cards, OUSD aims to ensure equitable reporting in SEL skills for all students. The scoring guide also notes how the 4-2-3-1 scale reflects a strength-based approach which encourages a teacher to score based on the frequency of which the skill is performed.

  • Page 3 Crosswalk of Social and Emotional Learning (SEL) Skills and Social Skills/Work Habits
  • Page 1-2 Oakland Unified School District (OUSD) – Report Card to Parents – Third Grade
  • Page 4 Scoring Guide - 3rd Marking Period - Social and Emotional Learning on the Elementary Report Card

**This document is considered a priority reading.