Counting What Counts: Reframing Education Outcomes by Yong Zhao & Friends

8. Nature via Nurture: Development of Nonacademic Skills – Yue Shen

  • It’s pretty clear that environment can affect how genetic potential is expressed. Unfortunately for schools, a great deal of nonacademic behavior is put in place before students enter school. This doesn’t mean that schools shouldn’t try to impact these behaviors. If creativity is encouraged, for example, a non-creative person can become more so. The same is true for things like emotional control, motivation, and innovation. Reminding students of their previous success and showing them others completing tasks has been shown to be effective. This chapter ends with a description of the PBIS (Positive Behavioral Intervention and Support) program that has shown evidence of success in some schools. It features data collection on student needs, prompt praise, continuous feedback, and a focus of available resources on the neediest students.

9. Shifting the Paradigm: Assessing What Matters – Yong Zhao

  • Parents, educators, the public, and students themselves want to know how they are doing. At this point, assessments are focused on tests of what students learn from direct , one-size-fits-all instruction. Although non-cognitive skills like interest, engagement, enjoyment, persistence, appreciation, social-emotional skills, and growth mindset are connected to success in life, they are not part of current school assessments. This is due in part to the fact they are difficult to assess and the current versions of such assessments are not generally considered to be objective.
  • Youg offers a new paradigm that would feature personalization of curriculum and assessments that would involve students in their creation. He also would like to see less emphasis on short-term assessments with a focus on their side effects. Teacher’s effectiveness should also be based on how well they promote non-cognitive skills. Students should spend more time with authentic world-based situations and be engaged in the design and production of products and portfolios. Significant opportunities to collaborate should also be part of the system.
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