Where to Start
As with measuring academic competencies, there are many possible metrics and tools to measure social-emotional competencies.1 Finding the right strategy depends on your goals. To plan thoughtfully, start by asking a few guiding questions.
Is assessment a requirement?
Sometimes a grant or official mandate requires assessment. If so, be sure to read the requirements for choosing an assessment tool carefully to make sure you gather and report the requisite information. The assessment tools and guidelines included with the Second Step Program work well for schools that simply want to make sure teachers and students are benefiting from the program and determine if additional support or training is needed.
What specific information are you hoping to learn?
If you primarily want to identify general areas for program improvement, then Second Step tools will likely suffice. If instead you want to gather specific data that can be used to map out individual plans for social-emotional and academic growth, then it may be worth your while to invest in an assessment tool designed to capture very specific metrics.
How much time and money do you plan to allocate to the process?
Investing in assessment might improve accountability and continuous improvement, but keep in mind that the cost of the tool does not necessarily reflect its usefulness. A good general approach to selecting the right tool is to make sure you can gather data points that relate meaningfully to your strategic goals, such as improving school climate or closing achievement gaps.