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Social and Emotional Learning Indicator System (SELIS) Survey Pilot Project: Year 1


The Social and Emotional Learning Indicator System (SELIS) pilot project is a partnership between DESE and 10 Massachusetts districts. The districts represent all regions of Massachusetts and vary from small to large in size. 82 schools and 16,039 students in grades 3 through 12 participated in the project. SELIS is a strength-based assessment of students' core social and emotional (SE) competencies. SELIS data helps educators support students' identities, leverage students' social and emotional (SE) strengths, and plan supports for students' SE competency skills in need of development. SELIS's tiered data system is designed to inform districts' multi-tiered systems of supports (MTSS) with the degree of support offered dependent on students' SE needs.

SELIS is a student self-report survey that measures five core SE competencies (self-awareness, self-management, social-awareness, relationship skills, and responsible decision-making skills). It is based on the Social and Emotional Competency Assessment developed and validated by a team of researchers, practitioners, and the Collaborative of Academic and Social and Emotional Learning (CASEL). SELIS pulls from CASEL's conceptual framework for social and emotional learning. Supported by the federal grant, Integrating Social and Emotional Learning into Academic Learning, DESE partnered with the 10 districts to pilot the SELIS tool starting in the 2020 - 2021 school year; this collaboration is ongoing.

SELIS Measure

Participating students shared their views on their abilities related to several SE skills that are associated with each of the five core SE competencies. CASEL's definition and skill descriptions for each core competency measured by SELIS is as follows:

Self-Awareness (SA)Self-Management (SM)Social Awareness (SOC)Relationship Skills (RSK)Responsible Decision-making (RDM)

The abilities to understand one's emotions, thoughts, and values and how they influence behavior across contexts.

Such as:

  • Integrating personal and social identities
  • Identifying personal, cultural, and linguistic assets
  • Identifying ones emotions
  • Linking feelings, values, and thoughts
  • Experiencing self-efficacy
  • Having a growth mindset
  • Developing interests and a sense of purpose

The abilities to manage one's emotions, thoughts, and behaviors effectively in different situations and to achieve goals and aspirations.

Such as:

  • Managing one's emotions
  • Identifying and using stress management strategies
  • Exhibiting self-discipline and self-motivation
  • Setting personal and collective goals
  • Using planning and organizational skills
  • Showing the courage to take initiative
  • Demonstrating personal and collective agency

The abilities to understand the perspectives of and empathize with others, including those from diverse backgrounds, cultures, and contexts.

Such as:

  • Taking others' perspectives
  • Recognizing strengths in others
  • Demonstrating empathy and compassion
  • Showing concern for the feelings of others
  • Identifying diverse social norms, including unjust ones
  • Recognizing situational demands and opportunities

The abilities to establish and maintain healthy and supportive relationships and to effectively navigate settings with diverse individuals and groups.

Such as:

  • Communicating effectively
  • Developing positive relationships
  • Demonstrating cultural competency
  • Practicing teamwork and collaborative problem-solving
  • Resolving conflicts constructively
  • Resisting negative social pressure
  • Showing leadership in groups
  • Seeking or offering support and help when needed
  • Standing up for the rights of others

The abilities to make caring and constructive choices about personal behavior and social interactions across diverse situations.

Such as:

  • Demonstrating curiosity and open-mindedness
  • Learning how to make a reasoned judgement after analyzing information, data, and facts
  • Identifying solutions for personal and social problems
  • Anticipating and evaluating the consequences of one's actions
  • Recognizing how critical thinking skills are useful both inside and outside of school
  • Reflecting on one's role to promote personal, family, and community well-being
  • Evaluating personal and interpersonal impacts
Source: CASEL framework (SEL Wheel)

Upcoming Events

Cohort 2 districts: 2022-2023 Kickoff Meeting scheduled for September 20, 10 a.m.

Cohort 1 districts: 2022-2023 Kickoff Meeting scheduled for September 27, 10 a.m.

SELIS Survey Findings

Executive Summary and Descriptive Reports

Executive Summary

Descriptive Reports

SELIS Webinar

Educators from five districts present on how SELIS data informs their social and emotional learning strategic plans and multi-tiered systems of support, and how they use the data to support students' social and emotional well-being.

SELIS Guidance Materials

SELIS Survey Item Prompts

Students in grades 3 to 5 responded to 45 items in total; students in grades 6 to 8 and in grades 9 to 12 responded to 48 and 50 items, respectively. Forty-one items were common across all grades and these items were used to anchor all 61 items and all students to the same scale metric. The remaining 20 items were distributed and unique to each grade span. Students responded, "Very easy", "Easy", "Hard", or "Very hard" to each item statement (e.g., Staying calm when I feel stressed).

Social and Emotional Abilities Profiles

Narratives of student responses at 5 benchmark scores (at 300, 400, 500, 600, and 700 on the scale of 1 to 999). Narratives are provided for each of the 5 core social and emotional competencies.

Narrative Profiles

Last Updated: December 7, 2022

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