Where Climate Surveys Fall Short and Where To Go Next

Student well-being remains at the top of educators' list of concerns. Yet, many schools that rely solely on climate surveys to inform their social-emotional and behavioral learning programs don't have the information they need. When comparing climate surveys to social-emotional assessments, there are key areas where climate surveys fall short of enabling a whole child system of support. As with academics, focusing on social-emotional skill development standards ensures accountability and helps educators plan, implement, and assess student learning.

Before selecting a social-emotional skill measurement tool, know the difference between evidence-based, validated assessments and less formal surveys.

To achieve the best implementation results, schools must select a quality, research-based assessment that will help streamline instruction, tailor supports to achieve predefined learning goals, and effectively measure outcomes. Consider several domains when determining the next step to maximize student outcomes.

Surface-level Insights vs. Deep Individual Understanding:

Climate surveys excel in providing a broad overview of sentiments within a school community. However, when it comes to understanding individual student needs, social-emotional assessments offer specific skill areas to inform instruction and guide resourcing decisions for advanced student support.

General Recommendations vs. Personalized Guidance:

Climate surveys often offer general recommendations based on aggregated data. In contrast, assessments like the DESSA empower educators with personalized insights, enabling them to implement targeted interventions tailored to the unique social-emotional skills of each student.

Overall Sentiments vs. Curriculum Integration:

Climate surveys capture overall sentiments but may fall short in aligning them with specific curriculum goals. The social-emotional assessments seamlessly integrate with academic objectives aligned to standards in your state, ensuring the development of social-emotional skills is an integral part of the overall educational experience.

Reactive Approaches vs. Proactive Intervention:

Climate surveys may indicate challenges, but assessments empower schools to proactively detect potential social-emotional development issues. This enables timely and targeted interventions to support students before challenges escalate.

Limited Instructional Insight vs. Informed Teaching:

While climate surveys provide valuable perceptions, they may not offer the depth needed to inform instructional interventions. DESSA assessments provide actionable data, empowering educators to tailor their teaching methods to meet the specific social-emotional needs of each student.

Snapshots in Time vs. Measures of Meaningful Growth:

While climate surveys provide valuable periodic snapshots, research-based assessment data measures meaningful skill development over time. This allows schools to monitor the effectiveness of strategies and make real-time adjustments to ensure sustained progress in students' social-emotional development.

Quality assessments can support schools' accountability for implementing systems that teach social and emotional skills. Data can guide and improve instruction. It also demonstrates and documents progress toward ensuring all students attain social and emotional competence. Research-based assessments support these systems by providing consistent and accurate information that can be used throughout the implementation process.

A data-driven approach to developing social-emotional skills can significantly impact student outcomes. If you want to explore how our assessments can enhance your school's approach to student well-being, contact us to learn more.