Choosing and Using SEL Competency Assessments:

What Schools and Districts Need to Know

measuring SEL and RAND

Step 3: Choose the SEL competencies to assess

For schools and districts early in their SEL journey, determining the competencies on which to focus is an essential early decision. There are many SEL competencies, including both intrapersonal and interpersonal awareness and skills. Educators will have a good start with selecting competencies if they follow Step 1 of this section and select an SEL framework and develop a Theory of Change. Educators can further narrow their list of competencies on which to focus based on several other possible inputs, including but not limited to:

  • Existing state or district SEL standards or learning goals;
  • Stakeholder feedback/input, including from teachers, parents, and the community;
  • The needs of the student body.

It is also important to consider whether potential target SEL competencies are:

Meaningful, i.e. have an impact on long-term student outcomes;
Measurable, i.e. can be assessed in a school setting;
Malleable, i.e. can be developed in a school setting.

These three considerations make up Transforming Education’s 3Ms Framework for choosing SEL competencies. [1] See Transforming Education’s 3Ms Framework Tool.

District example: California CORE Districts
In order to select the SEL competencies to measure, the CORE Districts used a six-step prioritization process in which district leaders and content experts voted on the competencies to include or exclude. The process they used is explained in more depth in a brief published by Transforming Education, Social-Emotional Competencies Selection Process.



[1] Krachman, Arnold, & LaRocca, 2016

[2] Nathanson, Rivers, Flynn, & Brackett, 2016