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Everett schools test social and emotional learning to better serve students

A survey for Everett students goes well beyond questions about reading, writing and arithmetic.

EVERETT, Wash. — With the school year winding down, students are taking final exams. In the Everett School District, students are also evaluating their "social emotional learning."

"I was wanting to give up," said soon-to-be senior Charmaine Stark. She's been homeless for the last year and a half. "I'm a teenager. I was definitely like 'nobody is going to understand.'"

She stays at a youth shelter. Last winter, she didn't even have warm shoes to wear.

In spite of her struggles, she is now thriving thanks in part to a program in the Everett School District. 

The program is called Panorama, and it measures the social and emotional learning by students in grades 3-12.

Students take a voluntary survey that assesses their aptitude for grit, a growth mindset and social awareness. 

They're asked questions like, "do you worry about violence?" And "how much do you feel like you belong?"

The data is analyzed and schools can spot trends in both individuals and groups.

Teachers can then come up with intervention plans or counseling to help and try to improve a situation. 

"Even students who looks like they have it all together often don't," said Cascade High School principal Cathy Woods.

Woods referenced a student suicide just prior to the program's implementation. 

"It's my belief that if we do these kinds of things we can find out if something is really bothering a student," Woods said. "We want to treat the whole student."

Stark is headed into her senior year and plans to become a nurse after that. 

She said she feels confident that she has the support of her school and the program will help her get there.

"It kind of makes me feel like I'm not alone," Stark said. "A huge struggle I've had is feeling alone and there's nobody to help me. I feel here there are so many opportunities for anybody to help me."

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