Process

Process

The steps below will help districts establish a process for monitoring and reflecting on district- and school-level SEL implementation and progress toward goals. Use the Rubric to assess your current level of implementation.

1. Build on the continuous improvement planning and data collection that took place in Focus Areas 1, 2, and 3.

In Focus Area 1, continuous improvement planning involved:

In Focus Area 1, continuous improvement planning involved:

  • Developing a vision and clear goals for SEL and an action plan to drive toward goals.  Download CASEL’s Action Planning Workbook for support with this process.
  • Determining what  data you’ll need to measure success and developing a timeline for data collection and reflection.
  • Establishing clear roles and responsibilities for monitoring and reflecting on SEL implementation and progress toward goals.
  • Establishing data reflection norms and protocols.
  • Providing support and tools to help schools establish their own SEL continuous improvement processes.

In Focus Areas 2 and 3, data collection involved:

  • Communicating the purpose of documenting implementation and outcomes.
  • Regularly collecting implementation and outcome data.
  • Monitoring and documenting progress on SEL implementation plans and goals throughout the year through rapid learning cycles.
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2. Compile and make implementation and outcome data easy to read and actionable.

To study and learn from data gathered through the continuous improvement process, the information needs to be compiled in a way that is easy to digest and interpret. Take any ‘raw’ data and use it to prepare a few clear graphs and tables to display key portions of the data.  This sets up a more inclusive discussion of data, making it easier for a range of stakeholders to quickly understand and engage in the discussion to offer a question or perspective. The school districts in the examples below share easy-to-read data reports to support districtwide and school-level decision-making:

  • Washoe County School District shares data from their SEL competency assessment.  At a glance, it is easy to see which social and emotional skills are easiest and most difficult for students, to see how student responses vary by grade level, and how student responses correlate with risk for dropout.

These examples show districtwide data, but in each case the district SEL team also provided schools with their specific data and protocols to engage in a parallel process of reflection.

Some districts will already have systems and structures set up for preparing reports and visualizing data for review. For example, your district may have access to data dashboards that graphically display student and staff outcomes such as student social and emotional competence data, academic data, and/or climate data. Another example could be reports that are shared across the district that include progress on SEL implementation, student outcomes, and/or staff outcomes. If your district does not have data reporting systems  in place, you may need to work with your Research and Evaluation department or partner with an outside organization.

When reviewing data on student outcomes and perspectives to inform SEL practices, it is important to present data in a way that allows the team to examine the impact on subpopulations of students (such as race, IEP status, gender, free/reduced lunch status, or other categories). Disaggregating data in this way can highlight discrepancies, inequity, and misallocation of resources. This is important to ensure the district’s SEL practices promote educational equity.

  • For example, disaggregated data can be used to see if certain subgroups of students give lower ratings on climate and engagement in their schools. Staff can then reflect on and address systemic root causes.  Disaggregated data can also be used to inform specific policy and practice changes and make decisions about where to target additional funding.

3. Engage students, families, community partners, and staff in data reflection.

It is important to engage these stakeholders in data reflection to ensure their perspectives shape the assessment of progress toward the district’s SEL goals, and to normalize elevating their voice…More

It is important to engage these stakeholders in data reflection to ensure their perspectives shape the assessment of progress toward the district’s SEL goals, and to normalize elevating their voices and agency.

In most school districts it is not feasible to include all students, families, partners, and staff in a deep discussion of data.  When prioritizing which stakeholders should be directly involved in data reflection, it may be helpful to consider the following questions:

  • Think about the lived experience behind this data. What additional context would be helpful to interpret and act on this data?
  • What additional information would give us insight?
  • Whose voices and experiences are not represented?
  • What biases or blind spots might exist within our team as we interpret this data?
  • How could students help us make sense of this data?

Involving diverse stakeholders in data reflection may require some creativity to align with their schedules and maximize participation. Districts have scaffolded the data reflection process in many ways. For example:

  • In the Cleveland Metropolitan School District, a Student Advisory Committee is designed to give students voice in the climate of their schools and to make suggestions for improvement. Data from the district’s Conditions for Learning surveys drive the conversation, and the school-level recommendations are shared with the building leadership team, district staff, and fellow students. For example, students on the committee noted that even though graduation rates were rising, college enrollment rates were falling. In response, they and district leaders brainstormed solutions such as offering more Advanced Placement courses and scheduling more college visits. Other issues they have addressed include ways to boost student attendance after holidays, how to peacefully protest, and strategies for enhancing relationships between young people and community police.
  • The Washoe County School District holds an annual Strength in Voices Symposium. Elementary, middle, and high school students lead all breakout sessions, which focus on a variety of topics like equity, assessments, analyzing results from climate surveys, and the challenges that issues like poverty present to students. In each session, students provide recommendations for change, and adults are present to capture that input. See Washoe’s Student Voice web page, including an extensive toolkit developed with WestEd.

You can read more about Cleveland and Washoe County’s efforts in CASEL’s SEL Trends: Empowering Youth Voice and in this case example about listening to students throughout the pandemic.

4. Hold data reflection meetings using established norms, protocols, and routines.

In general, the goal of data reflection meetings is to compare what actually happened to what you predicted would happen. Use established roles, norms and protocols to help scaffold and structure t…More

In general, the goal of data reflection meetings is to compare what actually happened to what you predicted would happen. Use established roles, norms and protocols to help scaffold and structure these conversations.

  • It may be helpful to have a team member who serves as the “data lead” describe how the data was collected and prepared.  The data lead may also facilitate the discussion or choose a different facilitator who will prepare reflection questions in advance that are specific to the data and guide the team’s discussion.  Appoint another team member as notetaker during the meeting.
  • Establish and reference norms for discussing data to foster a dynamic in which all participants have time to think and feel comfortable sharing their thoughts, all voices are heard and valued, and the group reframes thinking as necessary to keep an asset-based, solution-oriented lens.
  • The SEL Data Reflection Protocol includes a facilitator’s guide, participant handout, and suggested prompts for equity-minded data reflection.  A protocol such as this can help participants focus on the data and avoid making assumptions based on preconceived notions. Jumping to an interpretation can cut off valuable discussion and data exploration, which may result in a small number of narrowly focused solutions.   The Rapid Learning Cycles Protocol is a more basic template for shorter formative data reflection meetings.
  • Establish a routine by reviewing data at scheduled checkpoints throughout the year and using a consistent template to compare data from year to year.  For example, CASEL recommends that your team re-take the District SEL Implementation Rubric at the end of each school year to update your progress. If you engaged in Focus Area 1, Key Activity: Shared Vision and Plan, you will have established a baseline rating for each item on the rubric, and you can compare your current level of implementation to your baseline scores and the implementation goals you set at the beginning of the year.
  • Additionally, summative data reflection meetings are an important time to return to the Districtwide SEL Action Planning Workbook if you launched your action plan using this tool.  Reviewing your team’s responses in this workbook can help to:
    • Reflect on expected implementation progress compared to actual progress.
    • Reflect on mid-year data compared to expected mid-year milestones.
    • Assess end-of-year actual outcomes and compare these to the expected outcome goals.

5. Explore systemic root causes of disparities.

Analysis on a wide range of education data often reveal disparities in outcomes and experiences between student subgroups (e.g. race, gender, disability status, etc.) Your data discussion facilitat…More

Analysis on a wide range of education data often reveal disparities in outcomes and experiences between student subgroups (e.g. race, gender, disability status, etc.) Your data discussion facilitator should be familiar with the data presented and also have a strong self and social awareness to anticipate and guard against bias in data collection and interpretation.  To prepare for the discussion, the facilitator can reference group norms for data reflection and identify equity-focused discussion questions.  During data reflection, the facilitator should walk the team through considerations of equity by openly discussing any disparities the team observes in school implementation quality and in outcomes between student subgroups. Part of the facilitator’s role is to help the team explore the root causes that could be driving any of these identified disparities. There are a variety of systemic causes that could be driving inequities, such as district policies and regulations, how these policies and regulations are implemented, instructional practices, and lack of access to opportunities such as challenging curriculum or extracurricular activities (Osher et al., 2015).

To explore root causes, you can use a tool developed by High Tech High’s GSE Center for Research on Equity and Innovation. Through their work with the Carnegie Institute, they have assembled a library of tools and protocols for continuous improvement and offer a Fishbone Generation Protocol for root-cause analysis.

Identifying root causes requires a shared understanding and agreement that:

  • The school or district is looking for evidence of disparities so they can determine and act on the root causes of those disparities.
  • The system in which students live and learn is responsible for supporting all students’ social, emotional, and academic development.
  • Disparities among groups of students indicate a need for improvement in the practices and policies of the system, not deficiencies or failures of the students themselves.

Highlighting disparities can inform specific policy and practice changes and decisions about where to target additional support and funding. When disparities are observed, the team can discuss meaningful ways to address them during the next phase of SEL continuous improvement. (See Key Activity: Make Improvements to the Action Plan).

6. Equip school teams with actionable data, resources, and training.

To support schools in their parallel process of SEL continuous improvement, it is critical that the district provide school leaders with More

To support schools in their parallel process of SEL continuous improvement, it is critical that the district provide school leaders with data that gives insight relevant to their SEL goals and action plans, in user-friendly formats.  Establishing systems and structures so schools receive these data regularly will support them to consistently reflect on progress of SEL implementation and make adjustments based on what they learn.

In some cases, districts may need to provide technical assistance and resources to schools for compiling data they collected on their own. This may involve professional learning around preparing data or linking schools with research and evaluation staff who can support.

Districts can also support schools by providing guidance on how to reflect on their data. See the CASEL Guide to Schoolwide SEL for tools and resources to support schools in this process. Here are some other resources that can support schools in reflecting on data:

7. Provide structured opportunities for schools to share and learn from each other.

When multiple schools are implementing SEL, districts can coordinate opportunities for them to share and learn from each other through cross-site professional learning communities (PLCs). PLCs prov…More

When multiple schools are implementing SEL, districts can coordinate opportunities for them to share and learn from each other through cross-site professional learning communities (PLCs). PLCs provide a rich opportunity for schools to share successes and challenges they face when implementing SEL, and together they can support each other by working through problems of practice as a community. Read more about PLCs in Focus Area 2, Key Activity: Professional Learning.

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