Improving student success with Satchel Pulse’s consolidated SEL tool

Satchel Pulse is a district toolbox to accurately identify students’ individual Social Emotional Learning needs and guide their instruction. Our centralized solution provides school districts with targeted interventions, expert strategies and a creative library of SEL lessons.


Hillsboro School District is a public school district in Wisconsin. We work with 2 of the schools serving 560 students and 74 staff. The district has been using Satchel Pulse for over 1 year, since June 2021, and has found Satchel Pulse’s SEL assessment tool and interventions library beneficial.

Hillsboro School District logo

Steven Christianson,
Elementary School Principal
Hillsboro School District

What brought you to Satchel Pulse?

Historically, we merged social emotional learning behaviors together. When we're looking at the decision-making process for informing our systems and identifying student needs, it was always reactive. It was always after using referral data of students who are already exhibiting struggles with behavior and struggles with SEL. It wasn't proactive, and it definitely wasn't targeted, all we saw were the manifestations of some of these underlying skill gaps. So we looked for, first of all, an assessment. That was the first thing that we were looking for, a program, a system, or software, something that was going to give us a read on those types of essential skills.

Now, through this process, we hadn't even really dug deeply into CASEL. Wisconsin has its own SEL standards, and they're based on CASEL. So this was fortuitous, that Satchel Pulse is rooted in the ‘gold standard’ of social emotional learning with CASEL. We also liked how user-friendly it was, we liked how seamless it was for students to be able to access the surveys and to be able to respond. We love the idea that the prompts were read to the students and that this was available regardless of age groups and for all students, making sure that it was accessible for all. We loved the sliding emoji on the surveys, so students were responding in a way that they understood.

Satchel Pulse is rooted in the gold standard of social emotional learning with CASEL.

What are the benefits of Satchel Pulse?

A couple of other things that we loved about Satchel Pulse was the team. We knew that we had access to support if we needed it. We were very excited about being able to develop Satchel Pulse and how we use it, to customize it to our students' needs. We also really appreciated the inventory of interventions, and how high quality they were. They're the gold standard when it comes to SEL lessons and interventions and we're excited to see that the inventory is continuing to grow. In our system, we very quickly grew from intervening with a couple of students to intervening with 68 students. We're not a big school, but we're intervening with 68 students at a Tier Two level - that's 20% of our students.

We were able to be very targeted and very specific with what skills we were intervening with and we have the intervention library that we can pull from to give exactly what that student needs at the exact time that they needed it, from highly qualified individuals, too.

The other thing we liked about Satchel Pulse is the grouping piece. We love that Satchel Pulse easily and seamlessly analyzes the results for us. We're still in the experimentation phase with regards to setting the tier numbers, but we can set those parameters and then Satchel Pulse would identify those students that were in those Tier twos and Tier threes. Furthermore, it can even group students regardless of grades, as long as they’re close enough in age, and put them in the same group to target the same skill. So that’s another thing: traditionally, students were grouped by grade level and behavior struggles. Whereas now we can group them according to the skills they’re struggling with. We've got the high-quality content, the high-quality curricular resources to draw from, high-quality staff, and now the information to say "this is exactly what these students need". So we can put them in the right place, at the right time, with the right resources, with the right people.

How was the implementation into the district?

We were always cautious because we want to be very responsible with the duty of putting things on teachers' plates, and when and how we do that. The reciprocal accountability of that, making sure that we're clear as far as how it's done and ensuring all of our teachers feel like they have the resources and the skills to be able to accomplish that. One of the things we were very pleasantly surprised by is how user-friendly and accessible Satchel Pulse is for our staff to be able to use. I made a quick, 15-minute tutorial video of how easy it is to complete the screening assessment and the diagnostic assessment. I sent that out and then 30 minutes in, our classroom teachers had done that screening window for their class.

The students - even more of a pleasant surprise with how quickly they took to it! The students are now able to complete the screener in 5-10 minutes. Satchel Pulse provides an efficient assessment that has powerful levers to inform your support system. I’m impressed with how efficient it is with regard to time and resources.

We love that Satchel Pulse easily and seamlessly analyzes the results for us.

How would you communicate the value of Satchel Pulse to other school districts?

Satchel Pulse easily gives us the measurables, to say “here are the skills that we're trying to get students to know and be able to do, and here's how we know that students have learned it”. Because we're measuring absolutely every single one of those skills that we deemed to be essential and we have quantifiable data from the student's perspective and the adult perspective. It wasn't until January that we did our first screening window, it just happened to coincide with when our social worker joined our team. We were able to see very quick results and benefits from doing the right work, the right way, with the right information.

It was very easy to build a compelling case to continue that work when we've seen the evidence from the previous months. Now we're building a system this year to make Satchel Pulse data the forefront of the conversations in weekly student support meeting rotations. We'll discuss how we're ensuring learning for the Tier one universal level and how we're responding to those students that have been identified as needing Tier two. And for those students in Tier two, we've got resources, by way of the data, to suggest those students need more. So it's a no-brainer. I really can't put it any other way!