Technical Report

Preparing Youth to Thrive: Technical Report Introduction & Chapter by Chapter Guide

By Staff from David P. Weikart Center for Youth Program Quality

A introduction and guide to reviewing the Preparing Youth to Thrive: Methodology and Findings from the SEL Challenge

The Preparing Youth to Thrive: Methodology and Findings from the SEL Challenge is organized in four sections, reflecting the four primary aspects of the work: (1) selection of expert practitioners and exemplary offerings, (2) developing the standards for SEL practice, (3) describing a suite of SEL performance measures, and (4) identifying performance benchmarks for exemplary SEL organizations and offerings. A final section discusses findings from the Challenge and how to take SEL practices to greater scale using the standards and performance measures.

This report has several purposes. First, the report presents detailed methods and findings for each of the four parts of the work so that readers can, for example, understand how we selected expert practitioners or how we decided which practices were important enough to call standards. Second, the report provides validity evidence for the standards for SEL practice. The exemplary offerings were of exceptionally high quality, and this lends credibility to the standards for SEL practice that were developed by studying them. Finally, the report assembles information about reliability, validity, and feasibility for a suite of SEL performance measures, including performance benchmarks for normative use in deciding what it takes to promote SEL skill growth.

For efficient use of this report and the other SEL Challenge materials, we provide the following guidance to users:

  • If you would like an introduction to the study and orientation to the Technical Report, please read the Introduction, Executive Summary and/or Research Brief.

  • For readers interested in the overall findings from the SEL Challenge, they are summarized in Chapter Five.

  • For readers interested in locating expertise in their own communities, Chapter One describes the process we used to locate expert practitioners and summarizes the characteristics of organizations, offerings, staff, and youth who participated in the Challenge.

  • For readers interested in the standards for SEL practice, the SEL Field Guide, Preparing Youth to Thrive: Promising Practices for Social and Emotional Learning, provides a detailed description of the standards, with supporting content. The qualitative methodology used to derive the standards and practice indicators is described in Chapter Two and Appendix B.

  • For readers interested in the suite of SEL performance measures, Chapter Three provides a detailed description of the measures, procedures, and staff time necessary to replicate the Challenge data collection. Chapter Four presents performance results for the SEL Challenge organizations and offerings. Appendix E provides detail for reliability and validity of SEL skill measures.

  • Appendix D provides a summary of the scale and item descriptives for the measures. An aggregate performance report for all participating Challenge organizations at baseline and end-of-cycle is available at along with complete codebooks, permission forms, and other supporting documents for all measures used in the Challenge.

Learn more about the best practices for social and emotional learning.

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