Sunday, March 27, 2016

Approach scoring socio-emotional learning with caution

It's pretty clear, from the Rennie Center's focus on it in this year's presentation to the discussion at the Board of Ed that socio-emotional learning (inevitably SEL) is the new thing that everyone's talking about. As the new federal law requires states to come up with a fourth element on which to grade schools, I suspect we're moving in that direction in Massachusetts and elsewhere.
If we're having that discussion, I really hope that everyone will read and take seriously Angela Duckworth's opinion piece in the New York Times today. Duckworth has been a major part of the growth of the modeling and evaluation of such learning in classrooms, and she's warning that we're not ready to be scoring schools on it yet, or perhaps ever:
MY concerns stem from intimate acquaintance with the limitations of the measures themselves.
One problem is reference bias: A judgment about whether you “came to class prepared” depends on your frame of reference. If you consider being prepared arriving before the bell rings, with your notebook open, last night’s homework complete, and your full attention turned toward the day’s lesson, you might rate yourself lower than a less prepared student with more lax standards.
And there's more. Do read it. 

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