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Project Flourish: Advancing SEL assessments and implementation in the service of racial equity and social justice

Chan Zuckerberg Initiative (Cipriano, PI)

Funding Source: Chan Zuckerberg Initiative

Team Members: Chris Cipriano, Jessica Hoffman, Linda Torv, Zi Jia Ng, Melissa Lucas, Victoria Mack, Zoe Soeters

Project Flourish is a collaboration between Yale University, Trajectory of Hope, and The Urban Assembly to identify and eliminate inequity, racism, and other exclusionary practices in SEL research, programming, and policy through the use of novel SEL assessments and implementation.

In the past 20 years, interest and investment in universal school-based social and emotional learning (SEL) has increased. This movement has been backed by national education policy, including the Every Study Succeeds Act of 2015 which requires schools to measure at least one indicator of student social, emotional, and behavioral health in addition to academic benchmarks.

As indicators of school quality beyond academics have come to the forefront, two needs have emerged: evidence-based interventions and rigorous assessments that can provide sound and useful feedback on the efficacy of social and emotional learning approaches.

While many new SEL approaches and assessments emerged in the last decade to fill these needs, historically marginalized students have not shared equally in the benefits. In some cases, these interventions, practices, and policies have contributed to inequalities, inaccessibility, and punitive educational practices that adversely impact minoritized youth. A recent review of universal school-based SEL found that nearly 75 percent of studies did not even report student race in their results.

Trajectory of Hope , The Urban Assembly , and the Yale University have come together to ensure that social and emotional learning approaches, and accompanying assessment tools , promote equity and to help identify and eliminate racism and other exclusionary practices in research, in programming, and in policy.

Project Objectives

  1. Science: Explore and understand how novel SEL assessments work independently and in concert with each other when applied by organizations in schools with the stated goals of identifying and dismantling student outcome disparities, systemic biases, and/or exclusionary practices.
  2. Practice: Identify how novel support ongoing and established practices of Urban Assembly and Trajectory of Hope in fostering school-wide social and emotional health. Determine what adaptations or refinements to the tools are necessary to deliver a fully accessible, scientifically rigorous, and useful suite of digital assessments.
  3. Policy: Provide proof of concept of tool integration with data-systems native to schools in two different models – those of Urban Assembly and Trajectory of Hope - that will help these organizations become leaders in this space and yield information to make impactful policy statements regarding the resources, services, and staffing necessary to use tools and incorporate data in decision-making.

Assessment Tools

The novel SEL assessments for schools included in this study have strong psychometric properties alongside being accessible and pragmatic. The tools intentionally incorporated diversity in stimuli, samples, and design to address exclusionary practices in research.

School Climate Walkthrough

The School Climate Walkthrough is a web-based school climate assessment tool for secondary schools. Students complete “the Walkthrough” in two parts over the course of a typical school day - 15 minutes in the morning, answering questions about their overall opinions of their school, and 15 minutes in the afternoon, completing a checklist of their observations from that day at school.
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Momentary Emotion Assessment (MEA)

The Momentary Emotion Assessment Tool tracks how students feel and how they respond to their emotions at school. This tool could be used by researchers and educators to understand momentary emotions and how they change, and to capture the effects of interventions designed to improve students’ experiences at school.
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Student Emotion Regulation Assessment (SERA)

The SERA is a direct assessment that measures students’ use of various emotion regulation strategies (e.g., problem solving, emotional support-seeking, somatic relaxation, distraction, rumination, and experiencing the emotion) to deal with emotional situations that commonly occur in school.
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Contact Us

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  • Baumsteiger, R., Garcia, B., Cipriano, C., Hoffmann, J. D., Willner, C. J., & Brackett, M. A. (under review). Assessing adolescents’ momentary emotions and emotion regulation at school: A systematic review and future directions.
  • Baumsteiger, R. Hoffmann, J. D., Seibyl, J., Rose, B., & Brackett, M. A. (under review). A Systematic Review of Secondary School Climate Assessments.
  • Cipriano, C. (2019). Connecting the Dots of SEL Assessment: Methodologies that matter for students, teachers, and policy. Measuring SEL, The Collaborative for Academic, Social, and Emotional Learning. Published February 27, 2019.
  • Floman, J. L., Ponnock, A. R., Brackett, M. A., LaPalme, M. L., & Barsade, S. G. (in prep) The Emotion Understanding Test (EUT): Development and Validation of a Performance-Based Measure of Emotion Understanding Ability.
  • Hoffmann, J. D., Baumsteiger, R., Seibyl, J., Hills, E., Bradley, C., Cipriano, C., & Brackett, M. A. (2022). Building Useful, Web-based Educational Measures for Students, with Students: An Illustrative Demonstration with the The School Climate Walkthrough Tool for High Schools. Assessment in Education: Principles, Policy & Practice.
  • LaPalme, M. L., Barsade, S. G., Brackett, M. A., & Floman, J. L. (under review). The Meso Affect Perception Test (MAP Test).
  • Nabatova, A. (2021). How to create accessible software products. Retrieved from
  • Ng, Z. J., Willner, C. J., Mannweiler, M. D., Hoffmann, J. D., Bailey, C. S., & Cipriano, C. (2022). A Systematic Review of Emotion Regulation Assessments in U.S. Schools: Bridging the Gap between Researchers and Educators. Educational Psychology Review.
  • Willner, C. J., Hoffmann, J. D., Bailey, C. S., Harrison, A. P., Garcia, B., Ng, Z. J., Cipriano, C., & Brackett, M. A. (2022). The development of cognitive reappraisal from early childhood through adolescence: A systematic review and methodological recommendations. Frontiers in Psychology, 13.