A 4-Step Guide to Measuring Student Wellbeing
School and district leaders are more intent than ever to support student wellbeing within the four walls of the school building. Coming out of the paradigm-shifting COVID-19 pandemic and its litany of lockdowns, remote learning solutions, and adjustments to normalcy, students are struggling in many ways.
This is manifesting in a number of ways. School violence spiked following the return to in-person instruction in 2021, and while it has leveled off somewhat, there is still an underlying unease among students who experienced measurable learning loss and social isolation during a year or more spent in remote learning. Burnout is manifesting into attendance-related issues, behavioral challenges in the classroom, and reduced academic performance.
The most challenging aspect of this is that it’s not always immediately clear which students are struggling or why. The telltale signs of student challenges only help identify a percentage of students who could use additional intervention and support. As a result, schools are looking for a more reliable, proactive way to measure student wellbeing and institute programs to support those who were previously overlooked. Let’s take a closer look at what those efforts entail and how to start implementing such a system in your own schools.
Step 1 - Addressing Existing Challenges
Concern for student wellbeing is not new, but in the past, it was difficult to measure and respond to barriers that impacted learning in the same way that we respond to low test grades or poor participation. The tools were not in place to measure and assess social-emotional skills and their impact on academic performance accurately. Thankfully that has changed.
To start the process, however, schools need to shift away from existing tools that don’t provide the kind of granularity or insights needed to act proactively. Broad SEL surveys provide open-ended questions that capture qualitative insights from students, but they don’t provide the data-driven tools needed to act at scale. Inversely, teacher and parent-reported assessments are more quantitative but lack student voice, relying on observations from third parties who may be influenced by other factors, such as unintentional bias and time limitations.
While these tools can be useful in limited situations, they don’t offer the framework necessary to objectively measure student wellbeing.
Step 2 - Implementing a Wellbeing Screener
This is where a research-based wellbeing screener can have an outsized impact. Designed to measure students across several areas, these tools are designed to capture data and provide accurate, objective metrics based on tens of thousands of data points. By comparing how a student performs on such a screener compared to a broader population of peers, the resulting data provides actionable insights for educators.
PASS offers this type of universal screener, relying on data-driven insights delivered in multi-level reports to support proactive intervention in hundreds of school districts. Designed to be quick and easy to implement, PASS provides teachers, counselors, principals, and other school leaders with color-coded reporting that helps identify student attitudes against existing benchmarks. The result is data that can be used to inform proactive intervention programs.
Step 3 - Identify Recognizable Factors that Influence Student Wellbeing
The next step in measuring and responding to student wellbeing is to identify key factors that might influence student attitudes toward self and school. Within the PASS universal wellbeing screener, data is collected to measure student responses against nine factors.
These factors fall into three categories: Connectedness (feelings about school, attitudes to teachers, and attitudes to attendance); Self Efficacy (perceived learning capability, self-regard, preparedness for learning, and confidence in learning); and Motivation (general work ethic and response to curriculum demands). Each of these perceived barriers to student learning needs to be addressed with targeted interventions specifically designed to address the root issues the student is facing.
Without actionable data from a universal screener, it’s very difficult to identify the students who would most benefit from this support, let alone design and implement interventions that address the issues they have. PASS supports school leaders with a library of 100+ interventions mapped to these nine factors.
Step 4 - Measuring and Adjusting for Each Student
After implementing interventions, the fourth step in supporting student wellbeing is to re-measure and adjust for each student. This type of focused, individualized attention ensures all students, not just those whose visible actions require intervention, receive the support they need.
PASS can be readministered each semester in just 20 minutes. The resulting data is then compared against previous results to assess if progress was made and if further interventions are necessary on an individual basis.
Part of what makes PASS such an impactful tool for the districts we partner with is that it’s designed for practical application. Rather than utilizing broad, sweeping surveys or teacher/parent input to attempt to identify areas of need, PASS evaluates and reports only on the factors that educators have the ability to act on. PASS is designed to help schools to quantify in stark, actionable terms, how students feel about themselves and school. Taking that step beyond qualitative assessment is absolutely crucial to ensuring all students (including those who may be otherwise complacent), receive the support they need.
Building a Case for Proactive Intervention
Not every student will voice their concerns. A quiet, seemingly engaged student could be dealing with a litany of challenges that qualitative observations won’t catch. PASS offers an additional tool to educators, helping them to routinely measure for and respond to the hidden factors that can act as barriers to student performance and success. Learn more about how the PASS approach to research-backed wellbeing assessment helps educators and school leaders take proactive steps to support student wellbeing at every stage.