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How and Why to Measure Character for Improvement and Impact in Schools

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    EL Education

A new report by EL Education details how schools can measure students’ social and emotional learning.

NEW YORK, 1/14/2020—Despite the growing emphasis on character and social-emotional learning in education, how to best measure character in schools has remained a complex and unanswered question. EL Education addresses this critical topic in a new report, “Measuring Character,” that details their journey developing tools for improvement and impact in social, emotional, and academic learning. Read the report.

“This report provides a stepping stone for others interested in creating practical measures for assessing student character development that help schools bridge the divide between theory and practice,” according to Beth M. Miller, EL Education Chief Knowledge Officer.

Traditionally, character measures emphasized psychometric rigor to develop tools for evaluative purposes. This approach was at the cost of practicality, ecological validity, and contextual considerations, making such tools have little usability for the improvement of actual schools or districts. The report details how EL Education embarked on a research-based, educator-driven, iterative process to find, curate, and develop practical ways to measure character as an engine for supporting all students in achieving equitable outcomes. The voices of educators were at the heart of the EL Education’s character framework that serves as the basis for this measurement.

The result of EL Education’s work is a set of measures that include both student self-report surveys and school observation “walkthroughs.” These tools give educators and school leaders opportunities to examine, celebrate, and support the growth of student character, while also recognizing and embracing the complexity that comes with measuring something as malleable and multi-dimensional as character.

A major area of investigation for educators and scholars working in the area of character and social-emotional learning is ensuring equity for all students. Using EL Education’s tools, educators can disaggregate student survey data, examining and looking for how student experiences vary in classrooms through walkthroughs, and launching conversations about students’ “end-user” experiences (and what can be done to mitigate variations in such experiences), with and by students. These key evidence-based strategies work towards disrupting educational inequity and ensure that character approaches are responsive, inclusive, and supportive for every student.

To learn more, read the report. For more information about EL Education, visit eleducation.org.

Media Contact:

EL Education: Alexandra Fenwick, 646-517-6911 or afenwick@eleducation.org.