Student Success – More Than Just Math and Reading Success
Recently, researchers at CCSR reported on the role on noncognitive factors in student success and examined the complex body of evidence around the predictors, mediators, and moderators of adolescent educational outcomes. Their essential findings reiterate the frustration of using an ecological model as a predictive one. With the complex interaction of the individual, family, school, and community, how can the evidence lead to a pathway of academic and social success for all students? One place to look for answers are within the school system itself, specifically at teachers, whose ability to quantify their student’s success is becoming paramount to their own job security. Can teachers work to develop this delicate balance that nurtures both cognitive and noncognitive factors?
They can’t. Or rather, they can’t do it alone. Teachers, like the children they teach, need support. This support can come from administrators, parents, and other community resources outside of the school, but should also come from support staff within the school, which should include some combination of collaborating adjustment counselors, guidance counselors, social workers, psychologists, nurses, and family advocates/parent liaisons.
These human resources, if well integrated into the curriculum and instruction of the school, can add value to the educational experience by providing teachers with the care and support they need to do their job effectively and efficiently. These support professionals serve to bolster the very “noncognitive” factors outlined in the CCSR report—those essential skills, behaviors, and characteristics that are intricately linked to positive academic outcomes. And, as the CCSR report reiterates, it is the non-standardized outcomes, rather than the standardized tests, that are predictive of academic success, and yet so much emotional energy and social and economic currency is invested in high stakes standardized testing. I only wish that the human beings trained to support youth in schools could be valued as much. While we continue to sort through the studies and strategies that best enhance the school experience for all youth, we need to continue to invest in their social, emotional and academic growth with a human investment.
This post was written in response to a report called "Teaching Adolescents to Become Learners: The Role of Noncognitive Factors in Shaping School Performance" published by the University of Chicago Consortium on Chicago School Research.
Emily Mann is an Associate Academic Specialist in the Human Services Program at Northeastern University. She received a bachelor’s degree in Sociology from the State University of New York at Geneseo, a Master’s of Science in Social Work, and a Ph.D. in Social Welfare from the University of Wisconsin-Madison, where she studied the effects of early intervention on delinquency prevention. Dr. Mann spent two years as a Postdoctoral Fellow in the Clinical Research Training Program (CRTP) at the Harvard University Graduate School of Education, and was also a National Academy of Education/Spencer Postdoctoral Fellow. Dr. Mann's teaching and research focuses on educational interventions and academic and social functioning.