Many of the conversations we have with researchers, policymakers, and district partners begin with a discussion of which Mindsets, Essential Skills, and Habits we will focus on in our work together. The following table provides a glimpse of myriad skills that fall under the many related frameworks of “social emotional learning,” “21st century skills,” “character education,” and so on. This “Tower of Babel,” as we often call it, can quickly become overwhelming.
This isn’t going to be polished, because the process of thinking through issues of equity is messy. This isn’t going to be definitive, because no one has all the answers, least of all me. And it isn’t going to be confident, because writing about this feels very risky. But it is going to be authentic and, to the degree possible, self-aware.
For those of you familiar with our work, you may know that TransformEd serves as the lead strategic advisor on social-emotional learning (SEL) to the CORE Districts in California. The CORE districts have committed to measuring students’ social-emotional skills alongside academic achievement and school culture and climate in their shared continuous improvement system. In addition, TransformEd facilitates the Boston Charter Research Collaborative, a researcher-practitioner partnership focused on rapid-cycle research projects that support student growth in both the cognitive and social-emotional skills that contribute to academic and life success. However, these aren’t the only schools focused on measuring students’ social-emotional skills and using data to inform instruction. Our colleagues at CASEL work closely with eight districts to implement SEL district-wide, and here’s a look at five other districts around the country that are independently designing systems to assess students’ social-emotional skills in innovative ways.