PUSD administrators last Wednesday gave the school board an update on their efforts to address the social-emotional health of district students in the aftermath of the school shutdowns due to the pandemic. Using an educational assessment tool that was first administered last spring and again this fall to grades 3 – 12, school sites have screened for academic, behavior, and social-emotional risks among these students. According to PUSD, district-wide results showed that 1,592 or 86% of students of 3-12 graders who completed the screener were at “normal risk,” 210 or 11% of students were at “elevated risk,” and 59 or 3% of students were at “extremely elevated risk.” The current 9th grade class had the most students who fell into the higher risk categories, as the slides below show:
PUSD says it chose the BASC-3 Behavioral and Emotional Screening System (BESS) as a universal screener because it is research-based (valid and reliable), easy to administer (given online with instant results), and quick (avg time 15 min). It measures “internalizing risk” such as social stress, anxiety, depression, and sense of inadequacy; “self-regulation risk” such as hyperactivity and attention problems; and “personal adjustment risk” such as relations with parents, interpersonal relations, self-esteem, and self-reliance.
Administrators from each school site outlined the intervention steps being taken by teachers, counselors, and the Wellness Center to connect with the families of students who may be struggling, but they emphasized that the BESS is only a screening tool and not a diagnostic tool.