Measuring Noncognitive Skills in School Settings

Assessments of Executive Function and Social-Emotional Competencies

Edited by Stephanie M. Jones, Nonie K. Lesaux, and Sophie P. Barnes
Foreword by Timothy P. Shriver

HardcoverPaperbacke-bookprint + e-book
February 21, 2022
ISBN 9781462548675
Price: $88.00
334 Pages
Size: 6" x 9"
February 21, 2022
ISBN 9781462548668
Price: $38.00
334 Pages
Size: 6" x 9"
January 7, 2022
ePub and PDF ?
Price: $38.00
334 Pages
print + e-book
Paperback + e-Book (ePub and PDF) ?
Price: $41.80
334 Pages

Children's social–emotional and self-regulation skills are critical for success in school and, ultimately, in the workplace. How can educators determine the most effective approaches for measuring students' interpersonal competencies? And how can they use the data to improve their own practice? Relevant for school leaders, educators, researchers, and other stakeholders, this book brings together leading experts from multiple disciplines to discuss the current state of measurement and assessment of a broad range of noncognitive skills and present an array of innovative tools. Chapters describe measures targeting the individual student, classroom, whole school, and community; highlight implications for instructional decision making; examine key issues in methodology, practice, and policy; and share examples of systematic school- and district-wide implementation.

“World-class scientists and practitioners share groundbreaking information about diverse state-of-the-art measures and approaches to assess SEL. The volume highlights how to use assessment to enhance teaching, learning, and classroom practice. All researchers and practitioners who promote students’ social–emotional competencies and character should apply this important book’s lessons.”

—Roger P. Weissberg, PhD, Distinguished Professor Emeritus of Psychology, University of Illinois at Chicago; Chief Knowledge Officer, Collaborative for Academic, Social, and Emotional Learning

“Jones and colleagues have curated a thought-provoking volume grounded in theory and rigorous scientific methodologies, from long-standing practices in psychoeducational measurement to contemporary approaches that leverage technology, neuroscience, child development, and physiology. Contributors are highly regarded experts in social, emotional, and behavioral assessment. The volume addresses student-level questions along with classroom-, school-, and system-level considerations, including ways to contend with structural inequities. Chapters hold your attention with interesting analogies and authentic case scenarios. This seminal resource for practitioners and researchers alike takes a topic that has too often been an afterthought and ushers it to the fore. I will be using this book with my school psychology graduate students!”

—Laura Feuerborn, PhD, NCSP, Professor and Director of School Psychology and Faculty Fellow in Social Emotional Learning, University of Washington Tacoma

“As the saying goes, 'we manage what we measure.' Practitioners have long understood the importance of high-quality, evidence-based, developmentally appropriate, embedded social–emotional learning (SEL), but how we assess our efforts has been challenging. This book lays out in great detail the current state of SEL assessment and identifies vital elements for practitioners to consider. It should be required reading for anyone serious about measuring—and improving—SEL efforts.”

—Joe Aleardi, Executive Director, Horizons Bridgeport, Bridgeport, Connecticut

Table of Contents

Foreword, Timothy P. Shriver

Introduction, Stephanie M. Jones, Nonie K. Lesaux, & Sophie P. Barnes

I. From Physiology to Character Virtues: Creative, Contextually Relevant Approaches to Capturing Individual Functioning

1. Direct Assessment of Students’ Executive Functions and Motivation in Elementary Classroom Settings, Jelena Obradović & Lily Steyer

2. The Fidget Spinner Effect: Social and Emotional Assessment and the Healthy Evolution of the Social and Emotional Learning Field, Clark McKown

3. Defining and Measuring Young Children’s Social–Emotional Development in Global Contexts, Dana Charles McCoy

4. Stress Physiology in Context: On the Measurement and Meaning of Autonomic Nervous System and Hypothalamic–Pituitary–Adrenal-Axis Functioning, Keira B. Leneman & Daniel Berry

5. Measuring Noncognitive Skills Using Ambulatory Psychophysiology, Oliver Saunders Wilder & Richard Palumbo

6. Conceptualizing and Measuring Character Virtues and Related Attributes Using the Bornstein Specificity Principle: A Relational Developmental Systems-Based Perspective, Paul A. Chase, Dian Yu, Jonathan M. Tirrell, Mary H. Buckingham, Patricia Gansert, Yerin Park, Carolina Goncalves, & Richard M. Lerner

II. In the Classroom: Setting- and Behavior-Focused Approaches

7. Behavior and Discipline: Direct Behavioral Indicators for Use in the Classroom, Sandra M. Chafouleas & Amy M. Briesch

8. Using Behavior Incident Data for Program and Classroom Decision Making: Addressing Issues of Equity and Exclusionary Discipline Responses, Lise Fox, Myrna Veguilla, & Mary Louise Hemmeter

9. Defining and Measuring Quality of Early Childhood Education in Low- and Middle-Income Countries, Abbie Raikes

10. Capturing the Social and Emotional Classroom: Using Setting-Level Measures to Drive Improvements in Teaching and Learning, Sophie P. Barnes, Rachel M. Abenavoli, & Stephanie M. Jones

III. Population-Level Tools to Guide Practice and Policy

11. Cross-Cutting Issues for Measuring Social–Emotional Competency in Context: General Opportunities and Challenges with an Illustration of the Washoe County School District SEC Assessments, Rachel A. Gordon & Laura A. Davidson

12. Measuring and Monitoring Children’s Social and Emotional Competence and Well-Being in Schools, Families, and Communities at the Population Level: The Middle Years Development Instrument, Kimberly A. Schonert-Reichl

IV. Cross-Cutting Methodological and Policy Issues

13. Cross-Cutting Methodological Considerations for Measuring and Assessing Noncognitive Skills, Laura S. Hamilton

14. Thriving Matters: Policies and Assessment That Foster Equity and Thriving, Jessica Newman, David Osher, Deborah Moroney, & Samantha Neiman


About the Editors

Stephanie M. Jones, PhD, is the Gerald S. Lesser Professor in Child Development and Education at the Harvard Graduate School of Education, where she also serves as Director of the Ecological Approaches to Social and Emotional Learning Lab. Dr. Jones’s research focuses on the effects of poverty and exposure to violence on children's social, emotional, and behavioral development. Her recent work addresses the impact of preschool- and elementary-level social and emotional learning interventions on behavioral and academic outcomes and classroom practices, as well as new curriculum development, implementation, and testing. With Nonie K. Lesaux, Dr. Jones is co-director of the Saul Zaentz Early Education Initiative and co-principal investigator of the Early Learning Study at Harvard. She recently served as a member of the Council of Distinguished Scientists for the Aspen National Commission on Social, Emotional, and Academic Development.

Nonie K. Lesaux, PhD, is Academic Dean and the Juliana W. and William Foss Thompson Professor of Education and Society at the Harvard Graduate School of Education. Her developmental and experimental research with school-age children and youth investigates language, reading, and social–emotional development; classroom quality and academic growth; and strategies for accelerating language and reading comprehension. With Stephanie M. Jones, Dr. Lesaux is co-director of the Saul Zaentz Early Education Initiative and co-principal investigator of the Early Learning Study at Harvard. She is a recipient of the William T. Grant Scholars Award and the Presidential Early Career Award for Scientists and Engineers. Dr. Lesaux has served on the Institute of Medicine and National Research Council’s Committee on the Science of Children Birth to Age 8.

Sophie P. Barnes, EdM, is a doctoral candidate in the Human Development, Learning and Teaching concentration at the Harvard Graduate School of Education. Her research centers on the setting- and individual-level mechanisms that support children’s social, emotional, and behavioral skill development in school contexts, with a focus on executive function and self-regulation. She is also interested in adding nuance and precision to the measurement of social and emotional learning (SEL) and partnering with schools and districts to develop effective assessment plans. Prior to beginning her doctoral studies, Ms. Barnes worked in the EASEL Lab led by Stephanie M. Jones on a number of evaluations of school-based interventions that target children’s SEL growth and development, as well as research and translational writing projects.


Educational psychologists, school psychologists, and researchers; professors and graduate students in education and psychology programs; school administrators working with 4- to 17-year-olds (grades PreK–12).

Course Use

May serve as a supplemental text in graduate-level courses.