ACT-Tessera_color.png
Next Generation Noncognitive Assessment System

How One Charter Title I School Strategized SEL for Their Students

Posted by Jonathan E. Martin on May 8, 2017 6:28:09 PM

PeeDee Math, Science, and Technology Academy (PDMSTA) describes itself as a school that “implements a strategic educational program that teaches students through an innovative curriculum.”

When PDMSTA Director Keith Bailey recognized that the best strategy to strengthen student behavior, respect and responsibility was by doubling down on their social and emotional learning curriculum, he made the difficult but important decision to allocate his very limited personnel budget to this priority, staffing out a new Director of SEL position, occupied now by an experienced outdoor and experiential educator, Aimee Cox-King.

Then, at the ASCD Annual Conference, Keith set out to find an assessment system for his SEL initiatives. He was targeting a system that could inform their school-wide priorities, provide valid and reliable information about their individual students, and deliver them resources for enhancing SEL instruction and programming. He found and selected ACT Tessera as his complete solution to meet those needs.

Read More

Topics: assessments, K-12 Noncognitive Assessments, social and emotional learning, SEL, school stories

Encompassing All Your SEL Needs: Tessera as a Complete System

Posted by Jonathan E. Martin on Feb 24, 2017 6:03:49 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.

Read More

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

10 Ways Educators Can Use SEL Measurement and Assessment for Student Success

Posted by Jonathan E. Martin on Jun 1, 2016 5:00:00 PM


"10 Ways Educators Can Use SEL Measurement and Assessment for Student Success" by Jonathan E. Martin, Principal for JonathanEMartin Ed. Services, was originally published on Getting Smart.

In sharing a series of posts over the past several weeks about the rising demand for social emotional learning (SEL) measurement and noncognitive skills assessment, we noted that new methods are emerging for doing it effectively.

Still, some are wondering what a typical (or atypical) school or district would do with the data and reports they received after administering such an assessment to their students?

Because noncognitive assessment is still so new to schools, one answer to this question is we don’t yet know. We anticipate that five years from now we may be astounded by the diverse and innovative ways in which educators wield what we believe will be a powerful and creative tool.

Nevertheless, we can speculate about how measuring and assessing noncognitive skills and character strengths might valuably assist educators, both in bolstering students’ social and emotional skills and elevating their academic skills and traditional test scores.

Read More

Topics: assessments, education, social and emotional learning, education technology, SEL

Schools Really Can (and Should) Measure Noncognitive Skills

Posted by Jonathan E. Martin on Apr 6, 2016 12:30:00 PM

“Schools Really Can (and Should) Measure Noncognitive Skills" by Jonathan E. Martin, Principal for JonathanEMartin Ed. Services, and Jeremy Burrus, PhD, Principal Research Scientist for ProExam's Center of Innovative Assessment, was originally published on Getting Smart

The headlines shout that it can’t be done. That there aren’t effective, evidence-based methods for measuring noncognitive skills.

Our response: Yes it can and yes there are.

A front page news article in The New York Times, Testing for Joy and Grit? Schools Nationwide Push to Measure Students’ Emotional Skills, prompted several swift follow-up pieces around the web.

It is excellent to see the effort and attention being dedicated to this subject. We now know that social and emotional skills–which overlap with what many call character strengths, and others label noncognitive attributes–are as or more important than intellectual ability and cognitive aptitude for student and adult success in school, college, careers and life.

Read More

Topics: noncognitive skills, assessments, education, K-12 Noncognitive Assessments, measuring soft skills, social and emotional learning, SEL

Don't Stifle Noncognitive Measurements in K–12, Keep Improving Them

Posted by Jonathan E. Martin on Mar 30, 2016 12:30:00 PM



Photo by NEC Corporation of America with Creative Commons license.

Written by Jonathan E. Martin, Principal for JonathanEMartin Ed. Services, with Rich Roberts, PhD, Vice President and Chief Scientist for ProExam's Center for Innovative Assessments 

Angela Duckworth has garnered a great deal of attention this week for her Sunday New York Times op-ed, entitled “Don’t Grade Schools On Grit.” In it, she cites Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. to the effect that schools have a responsibility to educate for character. She also marshals compelling evidence on the social and emotional learning (SEL) skills we often call character, such as grit, and that “teaching social and emotional skills can improve behavior and raise academic achievement.” 

We agree wholeheartedly about the importance of SEL and character, and we appreciate all Dr. Duckworth has done to bring it attention. We write as friendly associates with Dr. Duckworth: Dr. Roberts has known her since she was a graduate student, and she has co-authored articles with him; I have met with her in small groups several times, interviewed her, and written about her frequently with great admiration. 

One might think that advocates of social emotional learning, knowing the importance character development and recognizing the value of using evidence for better decision-making, would strongly support measurement of student learning in this domain. Surely we would want schools to better be able to know which students are developing these competencies and which are not, so we can better direct our attention to their needs. We need to know which programs are accomplishing our goals and which are not; we should better evaluate which approaches we should fund and promote and which we should de-emphasize. 

Read More

Topics: noncognitive skills, assessments, education, K-12 Noncognitive Assessments, education technology

The Demand is Clear: Next-generation Noncognitive Assessment is Needed Now

Posted by Jonathan E. Martin on Jan 15, 2016 10:30:00 AM

Social Emotional Learning and Noncognitive Character Strengths Matter…
and How We Measure Them is the Key to Their Improvement

Perhaps the greatest consensus in K-12 learning today centers upon the critical importance of student social and emotional learning and the development of their noncognitive character strengths—their skills for success in school and life.

This is not news to teachers.  Ask a preschool assistant teacher or ask an AP Physics teacher and you’ll find resounding, even impassioned agreement: dependability, persistence, ambition, curiosity, and getting along with others matter as much, or very often much more, than cognitive ability.  Education leaders have similarly embraced this understanding, with ASCD making the “whole child” its signature slogan and state and district leaders shifting the emphasis of schooling to skills and life success.  

Read More

Topics: noncognitive skills, assessments, education, K-12 Noncognitive Assessments

Subscribe to Stay Informed

Download a free eBook: 6 Steps to Better Educating and Assessing the Whole Child in Your District or School