The intensifying interest among education policymakers in the social and emotional dimensions of student success is encouraging news. By complementing the important work in recent years to raise standards and strengthen instruction, the increasing focus on school climate and students' relationships to their peers and their schools is a potentially powerful catalyst for school improvement and student achievement.
But for educators to take advantage of this promising new opportunity, they need to be able to measure school climate and students' social and emotional development with confidence, respond effectively, and gauge if their improvement efforts have been successful.
Those are challenging tasks requiring substantial study. Six large California school districts have been at the work for nearly six years, measuring school climate and students' sense of themselves as learners every year through surveys of nearly a million students and their teachers and parents.
FutureEd thought it would be valuable to explore what the CORE Districts, as they call themselves, have learned from the surveys and how they have responded to the results. We gathered CORE-wide information but focused on the Fresno Unified School District, California's fourth largest, to follow a school district's responses into its schools and classrooms.
We collected what we found in a new report titled CORE Lessons: Measuring the Social and Emotional Dimensions of Student Success. We hope it's helpful to policymakers and practitioners heading down a promising but demanding new path to school improvement.