The figures below show students’ average self-ratings across each of the eight competencies assessed by different student population groups. The scale ranges from 1, Very Difficult to 4, Very Easy, meaning that higher average ratings (closer to a 4.0) mean that students rated those types of skills as easier to do. Lower average ratings (closer to a 1.0) mean that students rated those types of skills as harder to do.

One benefit of asking students directly about their social and emotional skills is that, unlike with math or reading skills, some of these skills are harder to see in a classroom, as they often involve internal thought processes. That said, one of the downsides of student self-report methods is that it is hard to gauge how accurate students’ self-ratings are. Would teachers or parents rate students the same way? Maybe, but not always. This raises questions about how best to accurately measure student social and emotional skills.

There are many reasons why students might rate themselves as higher or lower on each of these different competencies. WCSD, and the SEL field more generally, are just beginning to explore some of these reasons.

Keep in mind a few questions as you reflect on these data:

  • How well do students’ self-ratings reflect their true abilities?
  • Do students base their self-reported social and emotional skills on the feedback they receive from others, like their teachers, friends, families or even their grades? If students have had multiple behavior incidents at school, how might that shape their perceptions of their social and emotional competencies?
  • Are there inherently different cultural beliefs that affect how students develop and understand these skills?
  • Although we see differences in average ratings among certain populations, overall, students are more alike than different in their ratings. Although it might be a statistically significant difference, in practice, how different is an average score of 2.6 vs. 2.8?