School Differences in Social-Emotional Learning Gains

Findings From the First Large-Scale Panel Survey of Students
Susanna Loeb
Stanford Graduate School of Education
Michael Christian
Education Analytics
Heather J. Hough
Policy Analysis for California Education, Stanford University
Robert H. Meyer
Education Analytics
Andrew Rice
Education Analytics
Martin West
Harvard University


Measures of school-level growth in student outcomes are common tools for assessing the impacts of schools. The vast majority of these measures use standardized tests as the outcome of interest, even though emerging evidence demonstrates the importance of social-emotional learning (SEL). This article presents results from using the first large-scale panel surveys of students on SEL to produce school-level, value-added measures by grade for growth mind-set, self-efficacy, self-management, and social awareness. The article finds substantive differences across schools in SEL growth, with magnitudes of differences similar to those for growth in academic achievement. In contrast, goodness of fit of the value-added model was considerably lower when the outcome variables were measures of SEL constructs rather than of academic achievement. In addition, the across-school variance in the average level of the SEL measures was proportionally much smaller than that for academic measures. These findings recommend caution in interpreting measures as the causal impacts of schools on SEL, though they also do not rule out important school effects.

This article was originally published in the Journal of Educational and Behavioral Statistics by the American Statistical Association and SAGE Publications.

Suggested citationLoeb, S., Christian, M., Hough, H. J., Meyer, R. H., Rice, A., & West, M. (2019, October). School differences in social-emotional learning gains: Findings from the first large-scale panel survey of students  [Article]. Policy Analysis for California Education.