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Non-cognitive skills development should be an intentional outcome of our education system

  • Joanna
  • October 22, 2018

This year marks the 30th anniversary of political economist Andrew Weiss’ seminal paper demonstrating that the relationship between high school graduation and earnings can be explained by non-cognitive factors — such as a lower propensity to quit — rather than the simple accumulation of knowledge.

Twenty years after that revelation, Nobel Prize-winning economist James Heckman demonstrated that “personality, persistence, motivation, and charm” are of paramount importance to success in life.

None of this is new news. But as a nation we still generally teach non-cognitive skills only as a byproduct of the educational process, rather than an intentional outcome. And that is unfortunate, because research has consistently demonstrated that the non-cognitive skills gap is a key factor in socioeconomic disparity and intergenerational poverty.

A lot of times, progress in education is stalled by a lack of conclusive research. That’s not the case when it comes to the importance of non-cognitive skills development. The research is conclusive. As a nation, it is well past time to prioritize the addition of non-cognitive skills development for our students.


Do you want to help your students develop resiliency? You can learn more about Graduation Alliance’s social-emotional learning assessment and curriculum, ScholarCentric, here.