Evidence-Based Practices For Assessing Students’ Social And Emotional Well-Being

Heather Hough and Joe Witte | Policy Analysis for California Education at Stanford University
Caroline Wang | Education Analytics
Dave Calhoun | CORE Districts

Breaking Down the Issue

  • Disruptions to students’ mental and emotional health, social systems of support, and learning environments require a new focus on social and emotional well-being.
  • Although the need to assess students’ social and emotional well-being in a virtual environment is new, we can still draw from assessments that were developed and validated prior to the pandemic.

Strategies to Consider

  • comprehensive system for monitoring student well-being should help educators support students in schools and classrooms and allow for tiered referrals for special services. Many validated instruments on social and emotional well-being, learning conditions, and other nonacademic measures are available to schools and districts at no financial cost.
  • Well-being assessments are only effective as part of a larger strategy for supporting students.
  • Student surveys are an important tool for understanding things that cannot be observed, such as student mindsets and circumstances, and can supplement screeners and monitoring strategies. However, surveys should be concise and efficient.
  • Privacy concerns can be taken seriously without compromising the usefulness of well-being assessments.

Strategies to Avoid

  • Some survey questions can have the unintended effect of re-traumatizing, stigmatizing, or marginalizing students. Schools and districts are encouraged to use the resources in the previous sections, but those who wish to design their own surveys should be mindful of equity concerns.
  • Surveys often run into design pitfalls that make results impossible to interpret. Leveraging existing validated surveys can help avoid these issues.