Posted on January 26, 2016

By Chris Gabrieli

The enactment of the Every Student Succeeds Act reinvigorates a discussion as old as education itself – what skills do schools need to foster to enable students to succeed in life?

The new ESSA law enables and requires all 50 states to develop their own accountability frameworks including at least one indicator of school or student success beyond those captured by standardized tests of academic skills.

An objective look at the research on the keys to success aligns with the intuition of nearly every teacher, parent and employer: there are interpersonal skills (such as the ability to collaborate well) and intrapersonal skills (such as the conscientiousness and self-control required to work diligently) that are vital complements to academic skills such as math, literacy and science.

This is not arguing that academic skills are not crucial as well; non-cognitive skills are both vital complements and contributors to those academic skills. It is not an either/or choice but rather a both/and case. We call for everyone involved in the imminent state-by-state conversations on how to best

measure performance to consider the hard scientific evidence –and the judgment of parents, teachers, and employers — that non-cognitive skills are crucial to students’ long-term academic, career and wellbeing success.

Transforming Education has compiled and organized that evidence in the study Ready to Be Counted: The research case for education policy action on non-cognitive skills. We synthesized the most compelling findings about the impact of non-cognitive skills on lifelong success in three key domains: academics, career and lifelong well-being.

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