For the past eight years the Australian Council for Educational Research (ACER) has been at the forefront of work in Australia to refine reconceptualisations of the social outcomes of schooling, and to explore ways to measure the social and emotional development of young people. Contexts for ACER's work in this area include consultancies for individual schools, the development of questionnaire instruments as part of fee for services provisions for schools, assistance for state ministries of education, and development work for a variety of tertiary assessments. For example, in 1998, ACER worked with one school to formally assess and monitor the moral, ethical, social and emotional development of its students through secondary school. ACER began work with the Education Department of Western Australia (EDWA) to develop instruments to address the social outcomes of schooling within EDWA's system-wide monitoring program that collects evidence of student achievement at Years 3, 7 and 10. These instruments measure interpersonal skills (collaboration, conflict resolution and communication skills), intrapersonal skills (feelings in relation to self and self management) and social, moral and ethical development, with the intention of reporting achievements of students from Year 3 to Year 10 on a single scale. And ACER is currently working with the South Australian Education Department to define student wellbeing across the compulsory years of schooling. This paper reflects on ACER's research into the conceptual and practical challenges of refining definitions of social and emotional growth in a way that allows the definitions to be operationalised as valid, reliable and useful measurement instruments.
Forster, Margaret, "Measuring the Social Outcomes of Schooling: What Does ACER Research Tell Us?" (2004).