In 2011, the Anchorage School District asked AIR to conduct a quick-turnaround analysis examining whether student responses to a particular set of items on the School Climate and Connectedness Survey (SCCS) were a reliable measure by which to gauge school progress in fostering students’ social and emotional learning skills. To do so, AIR evaluators compared student and staff ratings on SCCS items to establish a ceiling for interrater agreement and then compared ratings on SCCS items to the Devereux Student Strengths Assessment (DESSA), a norm-referenced assessment completed by teachers.
Evaluators found that student ratings on the SCCS and adult ratings on the DESSA were not highly correlated, a finding that increased with grade level, appearing that, as students get older, self-perceptions regarding their social and emotional competencies may be based on a progressively wider range of relationships and settings than teachers see in school. Regression analyses conducted by the evaluators indicated that none of the DESSA subscales predicted 2010 achievement test scores nor did the social and emotional learning scale from the SCCS. However, five SCCS subscales from these years did predict achievement (safety, community involvement, high expectations, school leadership, and peer climate). It appears that these other aspects of student perceptions of school experiences are more strongly related to achievement than is social competence, regardless of whether the social competence rating comes from students or teachers.