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Social Emotional

The BIMAS-2 and the CASEL SEL Framework

The second and updated release of the BIMAS platform known as BIMAS-2 expanded its scales and interpretation to incorporate the Social Emotional Learning movement.  This was a result of feedback and contributions of colleagues who were users of the BIMAS-2 for several years and whose work incorporated SEL instruction who also wanted to assess the impact of this programming with reliable, valid and observable behaviors that were tried and were proven excellent as screening and outcome measures.  Thus, the driving force in creating the SEL scales was the position that measuring actual behaviors is a more valid way of measuring SEL competencies.  

We began our work by looking at the curriculum of one of the most frequently used SEL programs in the filed known as the Second Step.  Then we posed some basic questions:

  • How does SEL instruction influence student outcomes?
    • Research reviews have examined the impact of SEL programming across an array of student outcomes including academic performance, antisocial and aggressive behavior, depressive symptoms, drug use, mental health problem behaviors, and positive youth development and concluded that
  • Strong SEL skills increase the likelihood of academic & behavioral success.
  • SEL competencies provide a foundation for improved student adjustment and academic performance resulting in an increase in positive social behaviors, fewer conduct problems, less emotional distress, improved test scores and grades.
  • SEL programming positively impacts student college and career

Since the CASEL framework became the prominent SEL referenced framework out of literally hundred of SEL frameworks, we identified the 5 CASEL framework and placed certain BIMAS questions as representatives for these constructs.  Below is an example.

We proceeded with further mapping/content exploration between the BIMAS change sensitive items and the Second Step Curricula.

Following this mapping between the BIMAS items and Second Step we revisited the CASEL framework to seek further guidance on a final item mapping study involving authors, and additional users of the BIMAS as content experts.   The resulting work of this mapping is presented next. 

Following the assignment of the BIMAS-2 items in CASEL’s five SEL scales we proceeded with the development of the BIMAS-2 SEL scales following the same procedures as with the development of the original 5 BIMAS standard form scales.  In this case however, the scaling was kept unidirectional across all 5 BIMAS-2 SEL scales and the BIMAS-2 SEL Total score with a mean of 50 and SD = 10.  Low rating values mean low SEL scores and vice versa.

How can one further conceptualize the fit/connection between the BIMAS-2 SEL scales and the CASEL SEL framework? 

 In the figure below partially adopted from the CASEL organization, one sees three columns that describe the framework.  In the first column the framework recognizes that acquisition of SEL skills can be accomplished by numerous approaches, such as direct teaching, a positive school climate, teacher instructional practices, etc. 

In second column, “short term outcomes”, we anticipate that as a result of SEL “teaching”, students will acquire these 5 CASEL SEL core competencies.  How do we know that this is taking place?  The BIMAS-2 SEL scales can provide information on this for the entire district, building, grade, teacher level and individual student.   

In the final column, one sees the “long term” effects of these core SEL competencies which are taking the form of increase in positive social behaviors, reductions in Conduct problems, less emotional distress, improved academic performance.  These long terms CASEL SEL framework outcomes are the exact constructs and scales of the BIMAS-2 Standard form. 

It is for these reasons above that we strongly believe that the BIMAS-2 with it’s dual view of behaviors provides the most comprehensive evaluation of student behavior, offering a strong psychometric screener that can guide the design of SEL curricula, serve as an outcome measure and offer progress monitoring capabilities at the individual student level.

There are most likely many ways to operationalize the CASEL 5 SEL scales.  One thing for sure, the 5 SEL constructs are very highly intercorrelated constructs.  What questions one asks to operationalize them should go beyond their face validity.  Questions and behavior measured must be connected to an existing literature for their overall enhancement or in some cases for some students (Tier II and III) treatment or remediation.  There is a vast literature with tested interventions of what works best with behaviors.  We need to adopt this knowledge to the new territory and concepts of SEL. 

The dual view of the BIMAS-2 (standard and SEL) provides a mechanism, a common platform for educators and mental health professionals to discuss student behaviors and outcomes as a result of a variety of SEL approaches that we implement in schools (staff-student relationships, school climate, etc).

Therefore, when reviewing the BIMAS-2 universal assessment (UA) data the user is offered the flexibility to view the data dynamically and immediately from two perspectives across district, building, grade, etc. levels.  (see screen shot below).

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