Chagrin Falls is piloting a program to help strengthen social and emotional support for students across the exempted village school district by looking at data collected through student surveys.

In a presentation to the board of education on Feb. 5, Director of Pupil Services Jennifer Bencko highlighted the district’s MTSS goal, or multi-tiered system of support, which looks at three tiers of support for both academic and behavioral needs.

Mrs. Bencko explained that tier one includes the universal supports that the district provides to all students. “This is our general programming,” she said. Tier two supports are what are given to some students based on their needs, and tier three is the support given to a select few students.

In looking at the behavioral side of the support system in tier one, she noted that the district has Positive Behavior Interventions and Supports, known as PBIS, in place by establishing common expectations and teachings of positive behaviors across the district.

In addition to this, Mrs. Bencko explained that the schools are trying something new by collecting data on social and emotional learning for the first time in the district.

“We use a tool called Panorama [Education], which measures social-emotional learning competencies, and it also helped us look at teacher perceptions of students in those social emotional learning competencies as well,” she said.

In the first week of December, Mrs. Bencko said, the schools conducted surveys for students in fourth through 12th grade. She said students took 10 surveys that looked at competencies such as grit, growth mindset, self-efficacy, self management and awareness and engagement among others. “And then we got reports, which help us analyze those results and figure out what to do with them.”

In the surveys, students rate their responses to questions, such as how well they stay focused on goals or how they feel about their sense of belonging, which then gets averaged and compared to national averages.

“What we’re doing at a district level is we’ve rolled this data out to our district leadership team, our PBIS teams and our building leadership teams,” Mrs. Bencko said. “At this point, it’s starting to trickle down to staff at individual buildings, and we’re highlighting most of the areas where the results maybe weren’t quite what we wanted them to be.

“So, we’re going to use this data to really dive in and figure out what do we need to add to our programming, change to our programming, again to kind of develop that strong tier one foundation,” she added.

Board member Sharon Broz asked if the data has been looked at on an individual level and if parents can be looped in if there are any concerns that arise with results.

“We’re not there yet, but yes,” Mrs. Bencko answered. “We can dial it down to the student level so you could see for your student where they rated on each of the competencies that they took.” She said the results can be broken down by building, grade and teacher.

She added that right now, the district is looking at what this data can provide for counselors, providing an example that a counselor can target students in a specific competency and design intervention methods around this data.

“We haven’t really decided how we’re going to roll this out to parents yet or the students,” she said, noting that the schools are still in the early stages of utilizing Panorama.

“It’s a delicate area,” board member Mary Kay O’Toole said, noting that it has the potential to be very positive for students and parents.

Superintendent Robert Hunt noted that this helps the school intervene where mental health may become a concern. By having access to this data, he added that it gives the district the opportunity to measure whether mental health is improving in the district.

Dr. Hunt said he plans to sit down with groups of students to discuss this data and have discussions with them about what they think about this program.

Board member Greg Kanzinger added, “I think the discussions that come because of this will be more important than the survey.”

Sam joined the Times in 2019 and covers several communities and schools in the Chagrin Valley and Geauga County. She also oversees the features/community events and the website. She earned her bachelor's degree in journalism from Kent State University.

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