What’s Working: Rating Student’s Learning

What’s Working: Rating Student’s Learning

What’s Working: Rating Student’s Learning

What’s Working: Rating Student’s Learning

Many educational reformers have launched a campaign to measure non-cognitive skills such as literacy and writing as a means of gauging overall achievement. Research on such skills has shown that they have little impact on achievement. Non-cognitive skills have been credited with allowing people to excel in other areas of life.

But while parents want students to perform well in other areas of life, educators and their clients are looking at the scores of students’ standardized tests in another area of interest – How do they perform on reading comprehension and writing?

In response to the conflicting findings on the power of non-cognitive skills, districts have begun to reposition and reevaluate how they measure and report the non-cognitive skills. Districts that have been researching and engaging with this issue have found that no single score or metric exists to answer the question.

“It’s just as important to evaluate a student’s ability to analyze information as it is to evaluate his or her ability to write,” says Kaye Litzan, senior director of special education and learning management at CPS. “A three-digit number is meaningless without a sound basis to build off of.”

But even if there is no one standardized evaluation or rating system that accurately tracks the progress of individual students, district administrators are finding other ways to leverage non-cognitive skills to gauge student achievement.

Districts are reviewing student achievement data and comparing the statistics they collect on non-cognitive skills. Litzan calls this an “optimal measurement.” Other district administrators – not to mention the parents who seek knowledge about their child’s progress – find the information useful.

Superintendent Dr. Jean Kirkland of Long Beach Unified says her district has extended its discussion of non-cognitive skills to include all students, particularly English language learners. The district’s state report card has been reporting the non-cognitive skills of each student since the beginning of the 2012-13 school year.

“A significant portion of our local funding comes from the state and from federal sources,” Kirkland says. “Our most important responsibility is to assess and provide accountability for the children within our borders.”

Kirkland says this new reporting can be linked to programs that develop academic development and promote literacy for English language learners. “We also have begun to focus on improving social-emotional skills,” she says. “Our classroom teachers work tirelessly to connect critical thinking and everyday living skills. Our instruction is designed to engage our students. That includes the importance of social-emotional skills as well as academic skills.”

MindShift, a strategic information partner for schools, has recently conducted numerous analytical research projects on how to use existing assessments and assessments of non-cognitive skills to maximize student achievement and learning. While these assessments have made inroads in many of the districts surveyed, many districts have yet to truly begin assessing and measuring non-cognitive skills effectively. This research project is presented at the spring meeting of the Association for Supervision and Curriculum Development on March 31 in Seattle. The research project is also posted on MindShift’s web site.

This content is © 2016 MindShift, LLC, and its affiliate www.MindShiftNews.com. All rights reserved.

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