ProExam Blog

Encompassing All Your SEL Needs: Tessera as a Complete System

Posted by Jonathan E. Martin on Feb 24, 2017 6:04:47 PM

Tessera is not just an assessment and measurement instrument.

Tessera (pronounced tes-er-uh) is, in our vision and increasingly in our execution, a noncognitive skills and social-emotional competencies development system. In a nutshell, it encompasses a full social and emotional learning (SEL) program.

The graphic above provides insight into what we are building here, and demonstrates how, in addition to being circular, the system can begin at different points. To navigate it, consider the compass—north, south, and west are all good points to start with Tessera.

Upon joining Tessera, you and your school/district/program immediately begin receiving no-cost coaching (or you can opt for more comprehensive fee-based consulting) to determine how best to implement the Tessera system, how to map the six Tessera SEL competencies to your site’s high priority outcomes, and how to communicate to your constituencies the purposes and plans for Tessera in the future. We also assist, both before and after administering the assessment instrument, in providing presentations to your board, parents, or funders; leading trainings and PD services for your faculty with our team of expert SEL instructors; advising your leadership team in planning and monitoring SEL initiatives; and much more. 

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Topics: assessments, K-12 Noncognitive Assessments, social and emotional learning, Tessera

Students Look to Assessment Results for Perspective, Self-Awareness

Posted by Jonathan E. Martin on Dec 19, 2016 12:29:10 PM

“Clamoring! My students were clamoring for their Tessera results. Immediately after they took the assessment they asked how soon they could get their results, and they bugged me frequently about when they would become available.” 

So says Eve Rifkin, the Director of College Access at a high school serving a demographically representative student population in downtown Tucson, Arizona. She teaches a required and universal college and career readiness class to seniors every year, and this year is excited to be using Tessera as an important part of her program. 

Why? Rifkin explains that students tell her that they were seeking the affirmation that positive results might provide them, affirmation of strengths they believe they have and will be pleased to see confirmed. But more than that, they are eager for feedback and greater self-awareness of who they are as persons, as opposed to how high they achieve in mathematics and reading. “This is such a contrast to what they are used to; this is about who they are as humans.”

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Topics: noncognitive skills, SEL, Tessera, career readiness

Where Are We with ESSA’s Non-Academic Factors?

Posted by Jonathan E. Martin on Dec 2, 2016 5:21:33 PM

Most readers are probably familiar with the fascinating curve ball the 2015 Federal Elementary and Secondary Education Act, known as ESSA, has thrown into state-level mandated accountability indices. In addition to a set of “substantially weighted” academic indicators, states are to add to them “at least one additional indicator of school quality or student success beyond test scores.”

Although we are presently in a moment of political uncertainty with regards to the future of all federal policy and legislation, there is some reason to think ESSA will stand as is: it was passed, after all, in legislation by the Republican-controlled House and Senate before being signed by a Democratic President.

Let us first applaud the inclusion of this additional indicator, what the media is usually labeling (though not entirely accurately) the “Non-academic Indicator” (NAI) or “Non-academic Factor” (NAF) to the mix. This is great news: we know today more than ever before how important it is to broaden our gauges of educational effectiveness.

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Topics: noncognitive skills, education, K-12 Noncognitive Assessments, ESSA, Tessera, non-academic indicators

ASCD Highlights Tessera in New Policy Report

Posted by Jonathan E. Martin on Oct 18, 2016 5:40:57 PM


Photo by NEC Corporation of America with Creative Commons license.

A whole child education demands a strong focus upon and increased accountability for social and emotional learning, it is argued in an important new report in the ASCD Policy Priorities newsletter entitled “A Bright Future with SEL:” 

Decades of research argue that students need a balance of academic and social and emotional competencies for success in college, careers, and life. 

Policymakers and practitioners are now discussing the best resources, tools, and supports for embedding SEL across pre-K–12 schooling. 

The piece rightfully acknowledges that the facts on the ground—the recognition of the importance of social and emotional learning—are not new at all. However, they are coming into much greater prominence in the national conversation because of ESSA, the new federal law which “requires multiple measures for accountability, including at least one nonacademic indicator, generally understood to be an SEL measure, such as student engagement, educator engagement, and school climate and safety.” 

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Topics: SEL, Tessera, ASCD

New EdWeek Commentary: We Should Measure Students' Noncognitive Skills

Posted by Jonathan E. Martin on Aug 4, 2016 6:18:32 PM

Noncognitive skills are an ongoing hot topic in education, and for good reason—there is an extraordinary movement of renewed emphasis upon social and emotional learning (SEL), the kind of learning that research has well established is essential for all kids.

However, much is being missed in the national conversation about this subject. Researchers in university departments of psychology and educational assessment, as well as scientists at various measurement companies, have been industriously innovating, developing evidence-based systems by which we can effectively student character strengths and noncognitive skills. These new systems overcome the faking, subjectivity, and reference bias problems that plague “first generation” measurement methods.

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Topics: noncognitive skills, assessments, education, character strengths, ESSA, SEL, Tessera