The days are starting to get cooler, and teachers and students are settling into the swing of the school year. Educators have established classroom routines and are forging ahead through their lesson plans.
As you plan for the year ahead, don’t forget to incorporate social and emotional learning (SEL) to actively promote students’ social and emotional skills, which in turn helps improve the learning and academic outcomes of your students. You can start collecting SEL data at any time – and the sooner you get started, the sooner you will gain critical insight into each student’s social and emotional strengths and needs.
SEL as a Benchmark
If you haven’t yet established a practice of measuring and teaching SEL, now is a great time to start. Used for benchmarking, an SEL assessment can be given two to three times during the year and lets you know where students are in their social and emotional skill development. At the beginning of the school year, you can use the data as a roadmap to know where to get started teaching these important skills. For example, say you identify specific skills, such as self-management or relationship skills, that seem to be common areas of need. You can incorporate SEL activities into the day to teach and reinforce these specific skills.
As the year progresses, you can re-administer the assessment to see whether students have shown improvements in these areas. SEL data can also be collected as formative quick-checks to measure comprehension along the way. Equipped with this data, you can identify students who are struggling and make changes to your lesson schedule or teaching strategies accordingly. Aperture Education’s DESSA-mini was developed with four parallel forms to do just that.
The data from your SEL assessment will make your job easier, since you will get a clearer picture of the social and emotional behaviors where each student is excelling and where they need additional instruction. You can use SEL data to guide instruction for your entire classroom or for smaller group instruction. The data also can help you support individual student instruction, which will allow you to build tailored plans of action or incorporate information on students’ social and emotional strengths and needs into existing individualized education programs (IEP).
If you are looking for an SEL assessment that is easy to administer, the DESSA and the DESSA-mini are reliable and valid strength-based behavior rating scales that are used by districts all over the country. Grounded in resilience theory and aligned with the Collaborative for Academic, Social, and Emotional Learning (CASEL) framework, the DESSA measures can be used by teachers, parents, and out-of-school time staff to assess K-12th grade students’ social and emotional skills.
The DESSA-mini can be used by schools and districts to quickly and accurately screen the social and emotional competence of all students. The four forms of the DESSA-mini can also be used throughout the school year to monitor whether students are showing changes in their social and emotional competence. One of the fundamental features of the DESSA-mini is that it makes the data collection process fast and easy. The DESSA-mini can be completed in less than 60 seconds per child, and you can easily rate an entire class with the DESSA-mini in one planning period.
Used alongside the DESSA-mini or on its own, the full DESSA will provide more detailed information about the specific social and emotional skills of children across eight domains. This information can be used to support SEL instruction at the individual student, classroom, or school/district levels.
The start of the school year can be a busy time, but addressing students’ SEL skills early on will help ensure your students are engaged and ready to learn. Get started today and see how SEL assessments and instruction can promote the academic outcomes of your students.