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Social And Emotional Skills: Everybody Loves Them, But Still Can't Define Them

Social-emotional learning. Grit. Resilience. Agency. Empathy. Executive function. Education experts agree these are all crucial for student success, but the agreement stops there.
Non-Academic Skills Are Key To Success. But What Should We Call Them? Source: LA Johnson

More and more, people in education agree on the importance of schools' paying attention to stuff other than academics.

But still, no one agrees on what to call that "stuff."

I originally published a story on this topic two years ago.

As I reported back then, there were a bunch of overlapping terms in play, from "character" to "grit" to "noncognitive skills."

This bagginess bugged me, as a member of the education media. It bugged researchers and policymakers too. It still does.

If anything, the case for nonacademics has gotten even stronger since then. In fact, it has been enshrined in federal law. The Every Student Succeeds Act mandates that states measure at least one nonacademic indicator of school success.

There is also new research indicating that school-based interventions to promote social and emotional skills have large, and long-term, positive impacts: an average of $11 for every dollar invested, according to an analysis by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation (which is a supporter of NPR).

But despite all the hoopla there is still — still! — no consensus on how to

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