Stability of School Contributions to Student Social-Emotional Learning Gains

Hans Fricke, Susanna Loeb, Robert H. Meyer, Andrew B. Rice, Libby Pier, & Heather Hough

Purpose: Recent attempts to measure schools’ influence on students’ social-emotional learning (SEL) show differences across schools, but whether these estimated differences measure the true effects of schools remain unclear. To better understand these measures, we examine the stability of estimated school-by-grade effects across 2 years using large-scale survey data. Research Methods: We use 3 years of student SEL survey data from five large urban school districts in California, student-level demographic information, and summative assessment scores in math and English language arts (ELA) to estimate 2 years of growth measures (i.e., 2015–16 and 2016–17) with school fixed effects included to estimate schools’ contributions to student growth in SEL, math, and ELA. We compute the growth measures separately by grade and by year. We then estimate correlations of the school effects between the same grades in the two different years, as well as between adjacent grades for a given cohort. Findings: We find that schools in the top or bottom of the effect distribution have more persistent impacts across years than do those in the middle. Correlations among effects in the same grades across years are positive but lower than those for math and ELA. Implications: The results provide some evidence that school effect estimates based on student surveys measure actual contributions to students’ SEL; however, the low stability of estimated school effects draws into question including the measures in school performance systems. Using the estimates to identify particularly effective schools is more promising.

Access the full article here