ACER eNews

Assessing students’ social and emotional development

Increasingly, parents and the wider society expect that schools educate students to reflect on and develop their core values. ACER has three survey programs that can assist schools to assess the quality of the values education they offer their students. The questionnaires reveal students' views of themselves and their world. They also assess the effect schools are having on their students' social, emotional and spiritual development.

These surveys address issues that are:                

  • At the core of schools' mission statements and pastoral care programs
  • Modelled in school structures, practices/processes and expected staff behaviour
  • Representative of the broad 'world view' of individual schools
  • In line with public expectations that schools' obligations to students and their families extend well beyond the classroom.

The first of the programs is the Attitudes and Values Questionnaire (AVQ). It is designed for current and former secondary school students. It aims to assess the impact the school is having on its present students and reveal how that impact has stood the test of time with ex-students.  

This survey looks at a range of social and emotional issues with the option for schools to also address one or two religious dimensions.

It is ideal for those schools seeking to educate the 'whole person' for life. It uses language that is accessible and reports very comprehensively, providing detailed data on the school taking the survey as well as comparative data with equivalent schools, not identified in the report, that have already completed the questionnaire.

The quality of the responses is enhanced by the fact that the survey is completed anonymously.

The School Life Questionnaire (SLQ), also done anonymously, adopts a more focused stance, looking at the quality of life students are experiencing in their school. There is both a primary and secondary school version of this survey.

The SLQ   enables schools to collect information that can be analysed in order to:

  • Look at the social environment of the school
  • Reflect on the aims of the school and particular emphases and ethos
  • Explore the extent to which these aims are recognised and accepted by students
  • Examine the organisational structure of the school and its impact on student experiences
  • Make judgements about the effectiveness of policies concerned with curriculum, teaching practices, assessment, programs and organisation.

Finally, the Social-Emotional Well-Being Survey (SEWBS) has four forms that, combined, cater for the whole school from Kindergarten to Year 12.

The program surveys students at Years 2-4 and 5-12. Teacher surveys on their students are available at Years 2-12 and there is a teacher only survey of students K-1.

Schools can take any combination that suits their needs.

The surveys measure students' attitudes and competencies that underpin both social-emotional well-being, and responsible behaviour, and which have also been linked to educational under-achievement. The surveys also provide information on students' perceptions of good practice in their community, home and school.

Further information:
John Morath, Education Consultant by email or phone (03) 9277 5624 or 0407 353 648.

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