Rethinking How Students Succeed

Noncognitive skills initiatives hold promise for making students more successful. Noncognitive skills, the term used in this article, are related to social and emotional learning (SEL) and academic mindsets; they encompass academic attitudes and behaviors like self-awareness, self-control, persistence, social awareness, and relationship development. Recent work in noncognitve skills with students, teachers, and schools reveal that these sets of skills can improve student outcomes. This article focuses on efforts made by leading organizations in the field of noncogntive skills in scaling up programs and interventions with teachers and schools. These efforts are organized into four categories:

  • collaborations between researchers and teachers,
  • professional development for teachers,
  • systemic reforms in school districts, and
  • complementary efforts between in-school and after-school or expanded learning time.

The article also discusses barriers to scaling up efforts and recommends two priorities for moving forward in the field: (1) shifting from replication of programs to integration of practices into daily interactions with students and (2) helping educators change their own beliefs and mindsets. The article concludes with a description of what is an effective learner.

Content Comments 

This is a well-written article that covers the current issues related to implementing noncognitive skills in schools and classrooms. Grouping current implementation initiatives into four categories was very helpful in understanding the ways that leading organizations and researchers are expanding these efforts. Additionally, acknowledging the barriers that teachers, schools, and districts face in scaling up such initiatives to reach a larger and boarder range of students is important considerations to implementing successful initiatives. By categorizing current efforts, including barriers to implementation, and providing goals and priorities to move this work forward, this article can help state and local education leaders think about ways to implement a noncognitive skills program in K-12 systems.