Choosing and Using SEL Competency Assessments:

What Schools and Districts Need to Know

measuring SEL and RAND

Step 6: Implement Assessment

Practitioners should consult their chosen assessment’s manual, training materials, and/or developer for considerations and instructions that are specific to the measure, but some recommendations apply broadly. When implementing an assessment, be sure to do the following:

Establish clear roles and responsibilities. Assign specific people to collect data, compile data, and share findings with various stakeholders. Determine who will manage the overall process and who will “own” each of these subtasks.

Identify Stakeholders. It is also important to consider the stakeholders with whom data will be shared. Who needs to see the results of assessment, when is the best time for them to learn of findings, and how can data be best reported to and discussed with each type of stakeholder (e.g., students, school administrators and staff, families, community, district, community)?

Determine the frequency and timeline for data collection and use. Consider the following: Will the focus be on growth over time? Do you have the commitment and budget to collect multiple years of data? Who will be responsible for warehousing the data and analyzing for change? If data are used for continuous improvement, when are key decisions made? When must data be collected and shared in order to inform those decisions?

Communicate the purpose of assessing student SEL competence. This will help set expectations with students and families about what is being assessed, when, why, and how to expect findings. Share how the assessment data will be valuable for students and how it fits into broader SEL continuous improvement activities. It is also beneficial to explain that all assessment tools are just estimates, but they are still useful if implemented well and communicated effectively.

Ensure that the assessment is accessible to all students and free of potential bias based on comprehension of questions or process. Depending on the amount of cultural diversity in a school’s student population, an assessment may need to be translated into multiple languages. Accommodations must also be in place to ensure that students with special needs (e.g., reading disabilities) can participate. It is also important that the reading level of an assessment be appropriate for the developmental level of the students to whom it will be administered.

Provide training to staff involved in conducting assessments and using the data. Be clear about who needs what training at what stage in the process. Ask developers/vendors about any training resources. Training is often needed for:

  • Those involved in conducting the assessment (e.g., teacher doing ratings, staff proctoring survey, staff doing observations).
  • Staff responsible for compiling the data and reporting it back to stakeholders (e.g., research and evaluation department).
  • Staff responsible for using and communicating about findings (e.g., teachers responsible for using results to guide instruction, communicating findings to students/families).