Aug 24, 2017 by

“Action We Can Take Against the Harmful Effects of ESSA Upon Our School Children”

By Donna Garner



Thanks to Congress’ passage of ESSA under the Obama administration in which social/emotional/learning (SEL) is embedded, classroom teachers who are NOT certified as psychologists/psychiatrists are being told they have to evaluate their students’ social/emotional/learning (SEL). 


The SEL characteristics of a child are highly subjective because each child has been created to be a unique human being; there is no logical way that these SEL characteristics can be quantified.


CASEL (Collaborative for Academic, Social and Emotional Learning) has just conducted a contest to see which companies can produce the “best” SEL products. As you read through the “winners” below, please remember the true purpose of our public schools is to increase students’ academic achievement while at the same time helping them to become citizens of good character – not to try to “measure” those subjective character traits.


It is wrong-headed to expect classroom teachers to MEASURE, QUANTIFY, INDOCTRINATE, and PSYCHOLOGICALLY MANIPULATE students’ minds through SEL standards designed by the federal government and/or private entities. The world has seen many cruel and vindictive dictators who have done this, but it should not be happening in the United States of America.


If you are concerned about the new wave of SEL requirements hitting America’s schools, please go to this website – “Child Abuse in the Classroom – A Legal Challenge to ESSA.” The website is easy to use with very helpful, important information and ways you can sign up to make a real difference.




The United States has new leadership under President Trump with new people heading up his agencies. If we grassroots citizens all act together, we have a chance to influence them and Congress to rethink ESSA and its very dangerous provisions that are harmful to our nation’s children.


We do not need the federal government utilizing SEL and its workforce competencies requirements to decide what the future of our children will be.  Parents and the children themselves should make those decisions.


Donna Garner




“CASEL Looks To Build Social-Emotional Learning Assessment”


CASEL, the Collaborative for Academic, Social and Emotional Learning, launched a design challenge to create a tool in order to help schools measure social-emotional learning in their students. The Hechinger Report wrote they recently announced the 2017 winners.

The First Place winner for 2017 is:

Student Assessment Engagement
When students take an achievement test on a computer, metadata like the amount of time spent on each item are often collected. Research shows that students who often respond extremely fast–so quickly they could not have understood the item’s content–are likely disengaged from the test. Our measure quantifies how often students respond extremely quickly over the course of a test, which is strongly correlated with scores from measures of social-emotional learning constructs like self-regulation and self-management.

Submitted by:
James Soland, Research ScientistNWEA
Nate Jensen, Senior Research ScientistNWEA
Tran D. Keys, Executive Director of Research and Evaluation, Santa Ana Unified School District
Sharon Z. Bi, Educational Research Analyst, Santa Ana Unified School District
Emily Wolk, Assistant Director of Research and Evaluation, Santa Ana Unified School District

Of course, the winner would incorporate data mining into their submission! Can’t let good metadata go to waste!

Here’s the second place design winner:

Social Detective
Panorama’s Social Detective is designed to measure and help students practice social perspective-taking, a malleable and central social competency that underlies a vast range of social-emotional functioning at school and in life. In this performance task, students are challenged to be a “social detective” whose job is to figure out other people’s values, interests, and perspectives. After watching short video interviews, students answer a series of questions to gauge how well they perceive and understand each person.

Submitted by:
Panorama Education

Panorama Education explains “Social Detective” further on their blog:

…They had a tie for third place:

The PERC is a computer-based tool that assesses students’ Persistence, Effort, Resilience and Challenge-seeking behavior. These are key behavioral expressions of a growth mindset of intelligence.
Submitted by:
Tenelle Porter and Kali Trzesniewski, Department of Human Ecology, University of California, Davis
Lisa Blackwell and Sylvia Roberts, MindsetWorks

…The other third place winner is:

Zoo U Social Emotional Skills Assessment
Zoo U provides a game platform for performance-based formative assessment of social emotional skills in upper elementary grades.

Submitted by:
Melissa E. DeRosier, PhD, 3C Institute and Centervention
James M. Thomas, PhD, 3C Institute and Centervention

They explain what happens when students start playing the game:

Six short scenes at the beginning of the game provide a baseline for how students are doing with social and emotional skills: communication, cooperation, emotion regulation, empathy, impulse control, and social initiation.

Students then have an opportunity to play up to 30 scenarios to improve and reinforce learning for each of these skills.

The entire game takes 10-15 hours to play. They encourage teachers to spread that time out to play one or two times a week for 30 minutes each session.

You can see who won 4th-6th place here.

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