Love and Respect: Creating transformation through social and emotional learning at Humble ISD
The Humble Independent School District is a PreK-12 district serving 42,000 students in the Houston suburbs. It includes 27 elementary schools, 8 middle schools, and 6 high schools, including an early college high school that partners with the local community college. Humble ISD also has a campus for students who have had disciplinary issues. As a district-wide initiative to improve and standardize SEL practices throughout the district, Humble ISD created and launched a program called Making Connections. The five tenants of the program are to keep students healthy, safe, challenged, engaged, and supported. As part of these five tenants, the district added SEL professional development workshops for its educators and hired behavioral specialists to provide additional support for teachers and students. Over the past few years, Humble has been refining its initiative into what is now called The Great 8: Whole Child Wellness.
“It’s important for us to make sure we love our kids. And then the teaching happens. Teaching doesn’t happen until the love happens in your classroom, until the respect happens in your classroom. And I’m grateful for all of these different strategies that help develop that.”Esther Cundiff, 3rd Grade Teacher, North Belt Elementary, Humble ISD, Humble, TX
One hurdle for the district was determining how to measure the success of the Making Connections program. Humble ISD had no standardized method of determining which students needed intervention, so it adopted Aperture Education’s DESSA suite of assessments, known for its strong foundation in decades of science and peer-reviewed literature, in addition to a strength-based approach. The DESSA is a 72-item assessment that measures SEL competencies in students. The DESSA-mini is a shorter, 8-item version of the DESSA that is intended to be used as an initial SEL screening tool.
“I’m so grateful that I get to spread this message of social and emotional learning through love and through kindness so that we can heal our community one kid at a time. So that I can help kids and people help other kids and other people.”– Kimber Jones Serres, Behavior Specialist, Humble ISD, Humble, TX
In its first year, Humble ISD piloted the assessments with 2,000 students at five schools. If a student showed a “need for improvement” on the DESSA-mini, the teacher administered the full DESSA and based on those outcomes referred the child to a behavioral specialist. The behavioral specialist then conducted classroom observations and worked with the teacher to create an intervention plan for each student. Teachers and staff also provide instruction on the “Great 8 Skills” – the eight key social and emotional competencies measured by the DESSA – self-awareness, social awareness, self-management, relationship skills, goal-directed behavior, personal responsibility, decision making, and optimistic thinking.
Humble ISD has seen positive results so far as a result of its screenings and interventions. When it compared data from the first two years of the program, one of its pilot schools reported that discipline referrals had been cut by 76 percent. Humble ISD is continuing to expand its program by using the DESSA-mini as a universal screener in every classroom and the DESSA-High School Edition for its 9-12 students.
About Aperture Education
Aperture Education empowers over 3,000 schools and out-of-school-time programs across North America to measure, strengthen, and support social and emotional competence in K-12 youth and educators. This system enables education leaders can make strategic, data-based decisions about SEL within their organizations. The Aperture system includes the DESSA suite of strength-based assessments, CASEL-informed intervention strategies, and robust reporting, all in one easy-to-use digital platform. Aperture has supported over one million students in their social and emotional growth and continues to develop innovative solutions to bring the whole child into focus.