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IES Grant

Title: Creating a Monitoring System for School Districts to Promote Academic, Social, and Emotional Learning: A Researcher-Practitioner Partnership
Center: NCER Year: 2013
Principal Investigator: Weissberg, Roger P. Awardee: Collaborative for Academic, Social, and Emotional Learning (CASEL)
Program: Researcher-Practitioner Partnerships in Education Research      [Program Details]
Award Period: 2 years (7/1/2013-6/30/2015) Award Amount: $396,822
Type: Researcher-Practitioner Partnership Award Number: R305H130012

Co-Principal Investigator: LaMarca, Paul

Partner: Washoe County School District (Nevada)

Purpose: In 2013, when the grant was awarded, school-based student monitoring systems tended to be focused on factors that put students at risk for failure in school. The purpose of this researcher-practitioner partnership was to integrate information about students' social-emotional learning (SEL) skills that support academic achievement into an existing risk-focused student monitoring system to create one that it is more balanced, reflecting students' strengths as well as vulnerabilities. Such a monitoring system could be used to guide intervention at the individual, classroom, and school level to facilitate learning and potentially reduce the impact of risk factors that impede academic achievement.

Partnership Significance and Goal: Washoe County School District (WCSD) has collected data to construct a risk index for every student in grades K–12 to guide interventions that will keep students on the path to high school graduation. CASEL is a non-profit research organization composed of practitioners, researchers, and policy analysts with the mission to incorporate SEL learning into education. In this partnership grant, WCSD and CASEL worked together to integrate SEL skills measures into the existing WCSD data system.

Partners and Partnership Activities: The partnership included two groups, a Research-Practice Team (RPT) composed of the principal investigators and researchers from both WCSD and CASEL and an Advisory Council (AC) that represented a diverse group of district and community stakeholders. These two groups met jointly in each year of the grant, and the RPT held regular conference calls. Using data collected by WCSD, the RPT developed reliable and valid teacher and student self-report measures of SEL skills, dispositions and behaviors that are appropriate for use in educational decision making. The team also examined how different SEL dimensions are associated with academic outcomes (e.g., grades and standardized test scores). Finally, the team conducted analyses to determine whether SEL skills, dispositions and behaviors serve as protective factors moderating the relationship between student risk and academic outcomes.

Setting: This project took place in Washoe County School District, the second largest district in Nevada.

Population: In the 2011–12 school year, WCSD served 62,324 students in 63 elementary schools, 14 middle schools, and 14 high schools. According to the 2010–11 Nevada Report Card, WCSD's student population is 49.0 percent white, 36.9 percent Latino, 5.6 percent Asian/Pacific Islander, 4.0 percent multiracial, and 2.7 percent African American. This research involved data collection from the population of all students in grades 5–12 and all teachers of students in grades K–4.

Initial Analyses: Bi-factor and Item Response Theory (IRT) models were used to examine the structural and test-content validity of the student and teacher ratings. Standard fit indices were used to compare models. A series of hierarchical linear regression models were conducted predicting academic outcomes (e.g., GPA, achievement test scores). The first set of models included the SEL measures and the individual student risk factors (demographic characteristics, risk score), along with controls. The next set of models added interaction terms between SEL and risk to determine if SEL skills reduce (i.e., moderate) the impact of risk on academic outcomes.

Key Outcomes: As a result of this collaboration, the team developed free, open-source instruments that measure the self-reported social and emotional competencies of students in grades 5–12. These valid and reliable instruments were incorporated in to the WCSD risk monitoring system. In the Spring of 2016, Nevada and Alaska implemented the SEC assessment tool developed by the partnership on a state-wide basis. The Washoe County School District Social and Emotional Competency Assessments (WCSD-SECAs), both long and short forms, are available on the WCSD website.

Products and Publications

ERIC Citations:Find available citations in ERIC for this award here.

Book chapter

Brown, R. McKay-Bryson, A., LaMarca, P., & Weissberg, R. (2017). The Collaborative for Academic, Social and Emotional Learning (CASEL) and Washoe County School District (WCSD) Social and Emotional Learning Assessment Partnership. In J. W. Owen & A. M. Larson, Researcher-Policymaker Partnerships: Strategies for Launching and Sustaining Successful Collaborations. New York: Routledge.

Gordon, R. A., & Davidson, L. A. (2022). Cross-Cutting Issues for Measuring Social–Emotional Competency in Context. In S.M. Jones, S., N.K. Lesaux, and S. P. Barnes (Eds), Measuring Noncognitive Skills in School Settings: Assessments of Executive Function and Social-Emotional Competencies. New York: Guilford Press.

Journal article, monograph, or newsletter

Crowder, M. K., Gordon, R. A., Brown, R. D., Davidson, L. A., & Domitrovich, C. E. (2019). Linking social and emotional learning standards to the WCSD Social–Emotional Competency Assessment: A Rasch approach. School Psychology, 34(3), 281.

Davidson, L. A., Crowder, M. K., Gordon, R. A., Domitrovich, C. E., Brown, R. D., & Hayes, B. I. (2017). A Continuous Improvement Approach to Social and Emotional Competency Measurement. Journal of Applied Developmental Psychology, 55: 93–106.

Gordon, R. A., Crowder, M. K., Aloe, A. M., Davidson, L. A., & Domitrovich, C. E. (2022). Student self-ratings of social-emotional competencies: Dimensional structure and outcome associations of the WCSD-SECA among Hispanic and non-Hispanic White boys and girls in elementary through high school. Journal of School Psychology, 93, 41–62.