States Choose Not To Measure Social-Emotional Learning Under ESSA


Envision The Future states, "We have 19th century classrooms, 20th century teachers, and 21st century kids." When I read the Ed Week release, "No State Will Measure Social-Emotional Learning Under ESSA," I must admit that I was both disappointed and not totally surprised. Not surprised because we are probably not ready to effectively measure SEL. However, after two years in the making, I also wondered if we should be closer to starting the process. Why? I am concerned about how many teachers will not be able to effectively meet the needs of their students and the number of students who will continue to not make the progress they could and should without the supports related to their social-emotional well-being. For the benefit of having a common understanding, let's define social-emotional learning (SEL). CASEL describes SEL as the process through which children and adults acquire and effectively apply the knowledge, attitudes, and skills necessary to understand and manage emotions, set and achieve positive goals, feel and show empathy for others, establish and maintain positive relationships, and make responsible decisions. Ed Week states, "When the Every Student Succeeds Act was enacted, speculation swirled that states might use it as a launching pad to measure the students’ social and emotional competencies to determine whether their schools are successful." Well, for me, it was not just about measuring our students' social and emotional competencies to measure the schools success, I really hoped it would be a launching pad to move us closer to helping our teachers support our students in applying their knowledge, attitudes, and skills, managing their emotions, maintaining positive relationships, and of course making responsible decisions. When SEL is done well, it not only impacts the student but also impacts how the teachers make decisions in a positive manner. Schools are a microcosm of society and as we look at what is occurring outside of school, we also can see some of those things happening inside of our schools. Again, acknowledging that we may not be ready to effectively measure SEL, I would like to pose a couple of questions.

1) Will the momentum be slowed or lost around addressing SEL?

2) Is there something between nothing and not being ready for prime-time that we could have included in State plans related to SEL?

One 21-year veteran shared this reaction, "While we think we may not be ready, it is something we are already being measured by in our communities because it impacts the type of citizen we are or not producing every day."

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