How to Achieve Equity in SEL Assessments

Our classrooms are more diverse than ever before, and the ways we teach students are changing. A sweeping effort is being made to deliver a high-quality education to all students regardless of factors like race, ethnicity, income, disability, or learning styles.

As we embrace the goal of equity and helping all students achieve, we must carefully select social and emotional instruction and assessments that are aligned to standards and nationally normed.

The Importance of Standards

Standards play a critical role in our education system and directly influence instruction, assessments, and teacher training. Standards give us (our community, parents, and educators) an opportunity to define what we think students should know and learn in school. They also define clear goals for schools and students to work toward.

Equity and standards go hand-in-hand. Standards, when combined with professional development around equity, can enable a more unbiased instructional model by promoting high-quality instruction for all students. Also important are assessments that are aligned with these standards and nationally-normed.

Using Standards in Assessments

Standards have pushed schools to carefully consider the assessment process itself, specifically, how best to measure performance and achievement through an equitable lens. As we strive for equity in schools, we must ensure assessments are designed and implemented with every student in mind.

How do we begin to create equity within assessments? There are several things to keep in mind:

  1. We need to consider what we measure and how we go about measuring it.
  2. We need to create flexible assessments that meet the diverse needs of students. In short, all students must be able to demonstrate what they know.
  3. We must be conscientious about how we use assessment data and how it impacts decisions around students and learning.
  4. It’s important to revisit how we compare student data to draw conclusions about their aptitude and develop interventions. In the past, many schools determined proficiency through comparisons of other students or arbitrary goals. Today’s equitable schools measure proficiency according to carefully developed standards and demographically and geographically diverse national norms.

Equitable SEL Assessments

Like core instruction, social and emotional learning (SEL) programs should be designed to assess and develop social and emotional skills in all students, regardless of demographics or diverse learning styles. Many states are meeting this goal by developing SEL standards to improve SEL instruction and strengthen the validity of SEL data.

The best SEL assessments align to these new SEL standards and also are nationally normed. Comparing students to well-defined national norms increases data accuracy and provides a clearer, more reliable, picture of where students should be in their social and emotional development. SEL data, along with quality professional development that encompasses equitable best practices, provides educators with a strong roadmap for how best to help all students develop these important skills.

Is your SEL assessment equitable? Contact our experts at Aperture Education through the form below and learn what makes the DESSA stand out as a high-quality, equitable measure of social and emotional competence.

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