AHS Implements SEL Screener

On October 20th 9-12 students will be partaking in the SEL test to get  their mental health screened by Annandale staff. The purpose of the test is to target student’s identified needs as well as make any necessary interventions. 

The test will be administered by W4 teachers and it will be taken through schoology. Every school within FCPS requires two years to attain full implementation. On the test, there are 18 questions and it is available in fourteen languages. 

The main subject that the test tackles is the well- being of students, the environment that the students are in, and the competencies/ skill level of the students.

“I think it’s really important that students take this test because sometimes people aren’t verbally comfortable with talking about their mental health but it may be easier for some to talk about it online” said junior Ruftana Beyene 

To access the test students will log into their FCPS schoology account, click on the SEL screener link, choose a preferred language, and begin the assessment. 

Students are strongly encouraged to answer every question honestly so that they can get the help needed if necessary. 

There is an opt- out process if students/ parents are not comfortable with partaking in the test. To opt out, students must turn in a completed opt- out form to their W4 teacher. The information on the opt- out form however, will be shared with the community insider. 

Some frequently asked questions about the test consist of “Are students able to complete the screener over multiple days?” the answer is no. Students must begin and complete the test all in one sitting which means they only have the time period given in their W4 classes to complete it.

“I do think the test is useful and effective because student’s mental health always comes first and I appreciate that the county is taking student’s mental health seriously” said junior Ellie Davis 

“Although it may be tedious to have to complete a test during W4, I think it’s necessary and important for all students to take their time on the test and answer every question truthfully,” said Davis.

Another question frequently asked is “How much time is budgeted for the students to complete the screen scanner?” there is about 20- 30 minutes including time for the proctors script and any computer issues that may arise. 

The last question that’s frequently asked is “What support should be provided for students to take this screener?” teachers will accommodate the students’ answers and make any adjustments necessary.  

It is very important that teachers do not have an impact on the student’s answers and every answer the student gives has no other influence from second or third party sources. 

The test can be taken on an FCPS issued device that is connected to internet browsing and contains a panorama screen. 

The school psychologist, Laurie Ottehenning, gave an insightful background on the origin of the SEL test and how it positively affects Annandale students. “I think this information will make a positive difference because it will show us (our school) where students’ strengths are, but also where there might be areas for growth/improvement – so we can better help students develop those areas.”. 

The test is more used as a screening tool rather than to examine students. It is meant to observe student’s social-emotional skills in the following areas: self-awareness, self-management, social awareness, relationship skills, and responsible decision making. 

The goal is for teachers and staff to develop these skills which are crucial for students to develop throughout their high school experience. It Is imperative that staff and teachers make an effort to help students develop these skills which will come in handy once out of highschool. These characteristics will come in the form of relationships, school, and work. 

The main reason behind the test is due to the high stress levels that have come from the pandemic. Student’s have shown high levels of stress recently with returning to full in-person school, after a year of being online and having four day weeks.It has been a big adjustment for everyone at the school,specifically underclassmen. They had no time to develop these skills prior to high school so it can be a huge adjustment and life change. 

Overall, the SEL test is meant to help students and make sure they are able to develop the traits that were earlier mentioned so that they can use them in future relationships. 

If you or someone you know is in immediate distress or is thinking about hurting themselves, call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline toll-free at 1-800-273-TALK (8255) or the toll-free TTY number at 1-800-799-4TTY (4889).You also can text the Crisis Text Line (HELLO to 741741) or go to the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline Website.