Testing for Joy and Grit? Schools Nationwide Push to Measure Students’ Emotional Skills

Summary:  This article presents various perspectives on the proposal to have states include a non-academic measure in grading school performance.  The resulting discussion concerns how to measure social-emotional skills and even what skills should be measured.  Some believe that testing these non-academic skills is contradictory.  Others look for SEL test results to provide justification for funding SEL programs.

Source: Kate Zernicke, The New York Times, February 29, 2016

Categories: Core Values, Grit, Standardized Testing


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….But teaching social-emotional skills is often seen as a way to move away from a narrow focus on test scores, and to consider instead the whole child. It may seem contradictory, then, to test for those skills. In education, however, the adage is “what’s measured gets treasured”; states give schools money to teach the subjects on which they will be judged.

Read the full article here!

Scroll to Top