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ESEA Deal Opens (Trap?) Door for Use of Noncognitive Measures in Accountability

Boosters of school climate, student engagement, and social-emotional learning should be closely watching the debate over replacing the federal No Child Left Behind law with a shiny, new version of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act.

That’s because a late-stage draft for the proposed bill, which is due up soon for votes in both chambers of Congress, calls for states to incorporate factors beyond standardized test scores into their accountability systems. But is that putting the noncognitive cart before the horse?

In the past, big-name researchers of traits like grit, persistence, and growth mindsets have all said such factors should not be measured for accountability purposes, at least until more sophisticated measures can be developed. It’s an issue worthy of further exploration.