In 2010, before the rollout of ESSA, some of the largest districts in California formed a new consortium called CORE—a cooperative effort to implement new academic standards and improve training for educators.
This unified effort allowed them to receive a waiver from the Department of Education to begin exploring the importance of non-academic measures within their learning communities. They began by developing research-backed surveys to measure eight culture, climate, and social-emotional factors: Climate of Support for Academic Learning, Sense of Belonging, Knowledge and Fairness of Discipline Rules and Norms, Sense of Safety, Growth Mindset, Self-Efficacy, Self-Management, and Social Awareness. CORE then piloted the surveys in 2014 and 2015. In 2016, the surveys were officially put into practice and their results counted toward 40% of the School Quality Index score under the 2013 NCLB Waiver (60% of that score is academic related). Although the effort was led and the early results were interpreted from a school-centered lens*, FutureEd’s CORE Lessons: Measuring the Social and Emotional Dimensions of Student Success provides a rigorous framework for how you too can gain a better understanding the culture and climate of your learning environment.
*Once the NCLB waiver ended in August 2017, the California State Board of Education eliminated the survey results from the state’s new school rating system. “Nonetheless, the CORE Districts continued to conduct the surveys.” As Kim Mecum, Fresno Unified’s chief academic officer, said, “The natural tendency [of those in education] is to go to academics only. From the classroom to the boardroom, the hiring process, everything is focused on academics. The survey data signals that the other half of school life is equally important, and that’s our goal.”