Testing for Joy and Grit? Schools Nationwide Push to Measure Students’ Emotional Skills
SAN FRANCISCO — The fifth graders in Jade Cooney’s classroom compete against a kitchen timer during lessons to see how long they can sustain good behavior — raising hands, disagreeing respectfully and looking one another in the eye — without losing time to insults or side conversations.
A recent update to federal education law requires states to include at least one nonacademic measure in judging school performance. So other states are watching these districts as a potential model. But the race to test for so-called social-emotional skills has raised alarms even among the biggest proponents of teaching them, who warn that the definitions are unclear and the tests faulty.
“I do not think we should be doing this; it is a bad idea,” said Angela Duckworth, the MacArthur fellow who has done more than anyone to popularize social-emotional learning, making “grit” — the title of her book to be released in May — a buzzword in schools.
She resigned from the board of the group overseeing the California project, saying she could not support using the tests to evaluate school performance. Last spring, after attending a White House meeting on measuring social-emotional skills, she and a colleague wrote a paperwarning that there were no reliable ways to do so. “Our working title was all measures suck, and they all suck in their own way,” she said.
And there is little agreement on what skills matter: Self-control? Empathy? Perseverance? Joy?
“There are so many ways to do this wrong,” said Camille A. Farrington, a researcher at the University of Chicago who is working with a network of schools across the country to measure the development of social-emotional skills. “In education, we have a great track record of finding the wrong way to do stuff.”
Read the full story here.
Walking into Erin Van Dyke’s kindergarten class at Bellview Elementary in Ashland when it’s time to do a quiet activity, the first thing a visitor might wonder is how the room of about 20 children is so quiet.
Schools in the Rogue Valley are taking part in a program designed to help the students, as well as the community, thrive. The Pax game aims to promote peace, productivity, health, and happiness.
Fads sweep education like teenage fashions and often change with a new administrator or with the last visit to a vendors’ table at a conference. Imagine if your child’s doctor made decisions based on fads. Doctors and healing arts professionals are supposed to make decisions based on the best peer-reviewed, replicated science available. Most of that science is freely available at the U.S. National Library of Medicine (www.pubmed.gov).
A new era of public schooling is coming to some parts of New Mexico, one that holds hope that from kinder, more humane classrooms come children less likely to turn to suicide, risky behavior or drugs.