Traditionally, schools have screened students for social, emotional, and behavioral (SEB) concerns. This approach can be effective in identifying students who are beginning to exhibit behavioral problems such as aggression and impulsivity, or emotional difficulties such as anxiety and withdrawal, leading to further assessment and intervention. However, SEB screening does have significant limitations; without a strength based perspective, it is reactive and consistent with a “downstream approach” in which interventions are delivered after the challenging behaviors have begun to emerge. Most importantly, it is a lagging indicator in that the behavioral concerns need to be occurring at an elevated rate in order for the student to be identified. Furthermore, the goal of SEB screening is often to reduce or eliminate behavioral concerns, not necessarily to promote student well-being.
This white paper from Aperture Education and The Center for Health and Health Care in Schools explores how strengths based assessment of social and emotional competence can shift this paradigm to one that is proactive, upstream, and supportive of social and emotional learning (SEL), mental health promotion and prevention efforts.