As an administrator at The Auburn School, Jannette Puisseaux, director of related services, knows how difficult it can be to find an evidence-based, comprehensive social-emotional learning (SEL) assessment tool. For years, she notes, “our program had been looking and searching for an assessment that had research behind it.” At the time, Auburn relied on multiple assessments, often clinical and complicated, to capture students’ information. “We were putting pieces together,” says Puisseaux.
Schools no longer need to cobble together comprehensive programs. Today, they can choose IvySCIP, a one-stop shop of assessments, reports, and resources. Through research, conversations with experts, and a partnership with 3C Institute, codevelopers Dr. Eve Müller, Lynn Cannon, and Melissa Cherry created IvySCIP to support social skills often neglected in other SEL programs.
IvySCIP’s key feature is the SEL Strengths and Needs Assessment, which evaluates five domains:
- Self-awareness and advocacy
- Social interaction
- Emotional regulation
- Executive skills and critical thinking
Students’ scores in these domains guide other powerful features, such as the IEP Goal Builder, teacher- and parent-friendly reports, and an extensive database of resources.
The IvySCIP Cycle
Together, these features form a series of steps that any teacher can follow. Teachers begin by delivering the assessment, and IvySCIP then generates reports and identifies priority areas. In turn, teachers can use this information to develop students’ goals and find lesson plans in the resource database that align with these needs. The last step is monitoring students’ progress. With all this data in hand, teachers can start the process anew.
The benefits of this process for teachers new to social skills instruction can hardly be overstated, and Cannon and Müller had these teachers’ needs in mind from the beginning. Teachers who have used IvySCIP frequently recognize its usefulness for new colleagues. “[IvySCIP] takes the anxiety and fear—am I going to do it right or wrong?—away,” Puisseaux observes.
A Flexible Tool
Although the individual features support one another, teachers can also use them separately. The summary report, for example, tracks a student’s change in scores over time, providing compelling data for IEP meetings or parent-teacher conferences. In fact, this is how one teacher involved in early testing used IvySCIP: “I used the summary report in an IEP meeting today. To be able to go through and see plus, even if only plus 2, […] was motivational.” Others including Puisseaux have commented on the careful way that IvySCIP’s IEP Goal Builder breaks down goals into manageable, concrete tasks that can be monitored without the need for special training. What these features offer is not simply versatility but confidence—in the data, the analysis, and the skills needed to strengthen students’ abilities.
Backed by Research
Much of that confidence comes from IvySCIP’s foundation in research. In addition to their close work with experts, Cannon and Müller made sure to align the tool’s five domains with CASEL’s framework, a standard in the field of SEL. A pilot study conducted in 2018 also illustrated the tool’s effectiveness for students from diverse racial and socioeconomic backgrounds, as well as its applicability in schools small and large. The study included 37 schools, from such independent schools as The Auburn School to the populous public schools of Fairfax County Public Schools.
More recently, the pilot study’s initial findings have been supported in a forthcoming article in the Journal of International Special Needs Education. In particular, the study demonstrates a significant increase in students’ SEL levels when teachers adopted IvySCIP. Another article under review indicates that educators who use IvySCIP measurably improve the quality of IEP goals for students. Adhering to research-informed practices and making sure the tool is based in evidence are, in Müller’s words, a matter of “good due diligence.”
In the years since The Auburn School joined the pilot study, it has purchased enough subscriptions to use IvySCIP with nearly every student. Puisseaux remains a satisfied customer, championing its usefulness for other schools. She makes her case succinctly: “[IvySCIP] is one of the best tools we have in our program.”