Mounting evidence confirms that skills not directly measured by tests of academic achievement are critical for students’ success in school, careers, and life. This suggests that so-called noncognitive skills (otherwise referred to as social-emotional skills, soft skills, or even character) should be incorporated into education policy, particularly given the current emphasis on ensuring that all students complete high school ready for college and careers. Meanwhile, districts, schools, and teachers are not waiting for guidance; they are investing substantial time and resources in efforts to develop students’ noncognitive skills without the benefit of an organizing policy framework. Amidst this activity, a handful of school systems and charter management organizations stand out due to their coordinated, structured approaches to cultivating students’ noncognitive skills – offering potential models for the field as a whole.
On March 31, the Brown Center on Education Policy hosted an event examining the evidence on noncognitive skills and alternative approaches for policymakers seeking to incorporate them into K-12 education policy. The event featured two presentations that provide case studies of these approaches in practice and featured expert commentators who responded to the presentations and offered their perspectives on the research base and policy considerations.
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